The SMPA community lost one of our own last week. Mike Freedman was a former vice president for communications at GW, a longtime adjunct professor in SMPA, the father of two GW alumni (one SMPA) and a donor whose generosity helped SMPA students with scholarship funds. For some, Mike was a professor. For others, a colleague. To all he was a friend.
Mike had been sick for a while - pancreatic cancer, then COVID, then complications. Up until a few days before classes started he was scheduled to teach his history of media course, which met at the National Press Club (at the Newseum before that). He had contingency plans and guest speakers, and we all had a lot of hope. But by late August it was clear that it was time for Mike to step back from GW and be with his family.
Late last week word started to spread about Mike’s passing. The Washington Post ran its obituary within hours. And the tributes began to pour in. We got emails and texts in SMPA. Other remembrances and condolences were posted on social media. All of which led to more stories and tributes. We’ve gathered as many as we could, you can read them here. Email us if you would like to add your own.
What comes through across generations is Mike’s commitment to, and belief in, broadcasting and his students. A student who went on to become one of President Obama’s top speechwriters said, “he gave a rookie a chance.” A Washington Post reporter - who did not intend to be a journalist when he came to GW - wrote, “Mike Freedman’s course …gave me the final push to do what I do now.” The play-by-play announcer for the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets wrote, “Without Mike's encouragement and inspiration my dreams would not have become a reality.” And on they go.
The content of our courses matters. Facts and processes matter. Mike’s life, and the words from his friends and students, is a reminder that we believe in what we study and do also matters. Mike’s biggest lesson may be that what matters most is that we believe in you.