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Journalism alumni honored as Illini Comeback guests at 2010 Homecoming

Alexis Pope '12 JOURN | Photos by Allison Bulow '11 ADV
10/25/2010  4:00 pm

Three College of Media alumni were honored as Illini Comeback guests during the University's 100th Homecoming anniversary. The College of Media hosted a reception Oct. 22 for Bob Hillman '72 JOURN, Bob Epstein '74 JOURN, and Laura Rowley '87 JOURN, where students and faculty had the opportunity to interact with the distinguished alumni.

The Illini Comeback program was created in 1980 by the University of Illinois Alumni Association to honor the professional accomplishments of UI alumni during Homecoming week festivities. The guests were featured in the Homecoming Parade and honored at several campus events throughout the weekend.

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Bob Epstein is the executive producer of the "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams," the country's leading evening news broadcast. He has had a career at NBC for 14 years and is the recipient of many outstanding awards for his profession: eight Emmys, three Peabodys, two Edward R. Murrows, and induction into the Illini Media Hall of Fame.

Epstein said he has always kept a relationship with the University and it was an honor to be a guest. He was a part of the College's National Resource Development Board, and now serves on the National Advisory Board for the College.

"One thing that has always touched me is how connected students are with what's going on the world, on campus, and in Illinois," he said. "Anybody who has an interest in journalism as a career has to have that focus. This University really helps you stay connected to the world."

Epstein fondly recalled his many experiences at Greg Hall, including the Communications Library.

"I remember the emphasis on writing and rewriting," he said," not only learning the ethics behind journalism, but the craft of learning how to write a story, a lead, how to cover a city council meeting, a fire, the basics."

Bob Hillman currently serves as senior editor for POLITICO and POLITICO.com. He has spent almost four decades in the news profession with stints at Chicago Today, the Chicago Sun-Times, and The Dallas Morning News. His coverage of the Timothy McVeigh trial has been acknowledged. He also has been inducted into the Illini Media Hall of Fame.

Hillman said he likes how the Illini Comeback program provided a way for him to visit with students.

"This experience is a good opportunity to come back to the University to see what I have missed."

He reflected on his experience of using paste-up methods to lay out newspaper pages before there was advanced computer technology.

Laura Rowley writes the "Money & Happiness" column for Yahoo! Finance, which draws 42 million online visitors a month. Previously, she was a reporter and producer for CNN Business News in New York and the personal finance expert at Self Magazine. She received the 2009 Clarion Award for Best Online Column.

Rowley said the College's new Student Services Center is really amazing. When she was an undergrad, she said she saw a lot of peers, but there was not a great gathering location. She likes how students can meet with advisers and learn about internships at the center.

"It is an incredible honor to be in the company of two journalists," she said. "I feel very honored and privileged to meet students in the program and bring my kids. I want to support the University in the way it supported me."

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