Wind-Down of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism

Dec. 20, 2018

Dear members of the Brandeis community,

Reluctantly, but with great pride in its many accomplishments, I write to inform you that after 14 years of supporting pioneering investigatory journalism, the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism will be closing at the end of December.

When the Schuster Institute was established in 2004, non-profit investigative journalism was just emerging as a response to the significant cuts in newsroom budgets seen across for-profit news outlets. The Schuster Institute was the first investigative reporting center established at a university and it provided many independent journalists a platform and home base from which to launch impactful investigative projects. It was a generous gift from Elaine and Gerald Schuster that established the Schuster Institute and sustained it for many years; the Schusters’ vision for independent journalism continues at the dozens of other independent investigative journalism organizations the institute helped inspire. We will always be grateful to Elaine and her late husband Jerry for selecting Brandeis as the home for this extraordinary program.

Doing this work professionally and independently is expensive and, unfortunately, fundraising for the institute has been challenging in recent years. For the past two and a-half years, Brandeis University provided significant support for the Institute’s operations. Despite our best efforts, the funds necessary to support current projects and continued activities and operating costs of the institute were not forthcoming.  Therefore we made the difficult but necessary decision to close the institute. 

The incredible work done by the Schuster Institute and by our talented and dedicated fellows since 2004 will continue to shape the lives of thousands of people. For some, the outcome of this work is very direct: wrongly-convicted men such as Angel Echavarria and George Perrot are free today thanks to the work of the Schuster Institute’s Justice Brandeis Law Project. I am glad to say that for at least the remainder of this academic year, Florence Graves, the Schuster Institute’s founder, and her student research assistants will continue their important work on the Justice Brandeis Law Project in space provided by the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis.

Florence has led the institute’s work since 2004.  An award-winning investigative reporter and magazine editor, Florence built an enormously impactful organization with only three full-time employees, a few part-time staff, and a dedicated core of Brandeis student researchers. Brandeis is grateful for the expertise and dedication she brought to the institute. 

Since the institute’s inception, countless Brandeis students have learned the craft of investigative journalism through internships with the institute by working with its fellows. We hope to find new ways to integrate such mentoring and practical experience with journalism in our academic programs and residential living communities. 

Sincerely,

Lisa M. Lynch
Provost