New scholarship fund to honor UMD alum John McNamara

 Lucy A. Dalglish (left), dean of the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism, and Andrea Chamblee (’83) sign an agreement in the Gaylord Library of John S. and James L. Knight Hall to establish a scholarship in honor of John McNamara (’83) as friends watch in the background. (Photo courtesy of Alexander Pyles)

Lucy A. Dalglish (left), dean of the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism, and Andrea Chamblee (’83) sign an agreement in the Gaylord Library of John S. and James L. Knight Hall to establish a scholarship in honor of John McNamara (’83) as friends watch in the background. (Photo courtesy of Alexander Pyles)

This month, the Philip Merrill College of Journalism established the John McNamara ’83 Sports Journalism Scholarship. The scholarship was created by McNamara’s widow, Andrea Chamblee, several of their friends and Merrill faculty members.

McNamara was one of five journalists killed in the Capital Gazette newsroom shooting on June 28. These losses were felt deeply in the university community.

Three of the five victims had connections to the University of Maryland. McNamara and Gerald Fischman were alumni, and Rob Hiaasen was a journalism lecturer. The McNamara scholarship is the second scholarship created in the wake of this tragedy; the Capital Gazette Memorial Scholarship Fund was created in July.

Brad Jensema, director of Leadership Annual Giving at UMD, was one of the people who helped Chamblee establish the McNamara scholarship.

“[McNamara] had a passion and a knowledge of sports, particularly Maryland athletics, that was second to none,” Jensema said. “Many have told stories about how he was the quintessential mentor, not only because of his incredible knowledge, but because of his interest and desire to help others.”

Chamblee described her husband as “attentive, humble, devoted,” and dedicated to his work. McNamara was working on his fourth book, “The Capital of Basketball,” a history of race and basketball in Washington, D.C., for almost 15 years. He would track down sports journalists and retired players and schedule interviews with them.

“If you were a student journalist, or a sports celebrity, he gave you the same personal attention,” Chamblee said. “He never discussed these in-person meetings with people more junior than him as ‘mentoring.’ They were just meetings with people. I think he got as much out of them as he gave.”

Beginning next year, the scholarship will be awarded to an aspiring undergraduate sportswriter in Merrill.

“John’s impact was the motivation for many friends and families to play a leadership role in establishing this scholarship,” Jensema said. “I have been inspired by the incredible impact John had through his life and it is an honor to help carry on his memory.”

Said Chamblee: “I am especially hoping the award will reward writers who demonstrate potential for producing sports journalism that is informative and accessible to experts and new fans alike, in the style of Shirley Povich.”

Andrea Chamblee is currently completing McNamara’s book, “The Capital of Basketball,” which is expected to be released in early 2019.