A Learning Lab and a Labor of Love: the Hawk Celebrates 90 Years

The student newspaper is celebrating 90 years of documenting campus history as it happens.

Rachel Kipp

Illustration showcasing The Hawk newspaper and a typwriter.

Emily Graham will never forget the day she saw her classwork being read all over Hawk Hill.

An article Graham ’20 wrote for class had been picked up by The Hawk, Saint Joseph’s student newspaper. Graham had always liked writing and had been interested in journalism since high school. That day, she experienced a thrill that still brings goosebumps to the arms of even the most seasoned reporters: Seeing her byline in print.

“It motivated me to keep going,” says Graham, who was managing editor during the spring semester. “I realized that I was not only interested in journalism, but I could do it. I could interview people and form a story from it.”

For 90 years, The Hawk has recorded the history of Saint Joseph’s in a way that few, if any, others have. For those who have worked there, it’s been a place to learn and grow, a place to inspire a future career and a place to build friendships that last long after graduation.

“It’s helping tell the story of St. Joe’s, week by week, year by year,” says former staffer Chris Durso ’92. “Because it’s a university, St. Joe’s doesn’t have just one story; it’s thousands of stories every year for whoever is studying there or teaching there or providing some level of support there. If The Hawk is doing it right, they’re capturing some of that story and, for at least a moment, people are stopping and paying more attention to that story than they would if The Hawk wasn’t there.”

Hawk staffers are at nearly every game, lecture, meeting and special event – not as spectators or fans, but to work. They handle every aspect of production, including putting physical copies in distribution boxes early Wednesday mornings. Instead of a paycheck, they earn a byline. Whether the staff lands a big story or makes the smallest mistake, it’s all right there in print. The people they write about are neighbors, dormmates, professors and others they may encounter in their lives as St. Joe’s students. No matter what, there will be opinions – and there’s nowhere to hide when your name is right at the top of the story.

“There’s one laboratory on campus that runs every week, every semester, and it’s The Hawk,” says Owen Gilman, Ph.D., an English professor who served as faculty advisor to The Hawk from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. “It’s for real. They’re doing what journalists do exactly the way journalists do it.”


There’s one laboratory on campus that runs every week, every semester, and it’s The Hawk. It’s for real. They’re doing what journalists do exactly the way journalists do it.”

Owen Gilman, Ph.D.

English Professor and Former Hawk Faculty Advisor

The newspaper is marking its 90th birthday at an unprecedented time. For the first time, there is no print edition. When the COVID-19 pandemic sent everyone home in March, the staff had to figure out how to continue their work remotely, holding news meetings via Zoom and introducing an e-newsletter to complement its website and stand in for what would normally appear in hard copy.

“Many of us on staff are seniors and getting our college experience cut short was a punch to the gut,” says Luke Malanga ’20, who was editor-in-chief this spring. “But we also recognize the gravity of the situation and I think that motivates us to realize our responsibility during this time. In times of uncertainty, people are searching for answers and we want to be that resource for our community.”

A Resource for the Community

The first issue of The Hawk was published on June 10, 1930, when Saint Joseph’s University was still St. Joseph’s College. Herbert Hoover was president, the United States was mired in the Great Depression and four million Americans were unemployed. The front page was entirely devoted to coverage of Commencement. Less than 50 students received bachelor’s degrees that spring; just three were awarded master’s degrees. The staff editorial on an inside page noted that, “there have been four stages in the progress of St. Joseph’s College: the inception at Willing’s Alley, the Stiles Street building, the new St. Joseph’s at the present site and The Hawk.

The editorial goes on to say that in the early years of St. Joe’s, almost everyone knew everyone else. But with enrollment increasing, the founding staff members determined that a weekly paper was now an “urgent” need.

“The purpose of The Hawk is to report the news of St. Joseph’s (sic) to the entire student body and alumni, and thus keep alive a keen interest in college activities and foster a healthy college spirit,” they wrote.

There have been ups and downs along the way. In June 1943, a year before the Allied Invasion of Normandy on D-Day, The Hawk staff published a Commencement edition, but Managing Editor Joseph P. McGee, Jr. wrote that he did not know when the paper would be published again: Nearly the entire staff had been drafted and was leaving school for the military.

In the spring of 1968, the staff announced that a lack of funds to print weekly meant the paper would have to be published in an “underground” format for the rest of the semester. In September 1970, as the staff covered the historic admission of female day students, it also published an editorial challenging students to join the staff.


That night, we had to completely change our entire issue. It was funny to just watch this surreal moment of the Secret Service on top of Campion, on top of Sourin Hall. And then you just saw the Popemobile pull into the Campion lot and it was like, ‘Are you kidding? Is this real?

Ana Faguy ’19

“A newspaper is important. At least it should be,” the staff wrote. “With all the changes that are happening this year at Saint Joseph’s, an attitude on the part of the student must be changed. No longer can people just sit back and expect to have things like the newspaper done for them. You must get out and do it yourselves.”

A Unique Experience

The Hawk has covered the campus reaction to national news like the death of President John F. Kennedy, Jr. and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It documented historic visits to campus by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Pope Francis. Staffers have covered campus controversies, hiring and firing, and sports’ teams’ winning (and losing) seasons.

In 2014, The Hawk earned a prestigious Newspaper of the Year award, or Pacemaker, from the Associated College Press. A year later, the staff covered the death of their faculty advisor, Saint Joseph’s Assistant Professor of Journalism Daniel Reimhold, Ph.D., who died suddenly at age 34. The paper and individual staffers have won numerous awards from the Keystone Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. These days, the staff is around 30 students each semester. In addition to the weekly paper, they provide daily updates on the paper’s website and on social media.

“I’ve always said to people that college campuses are the one place where print newspapers aren’t dead,” says former Hawk editor-in-chief Ana Faguy ’19, now a reporter at The Baltimore Sun. “Every Wednesday morning, you walk around campus and see people with the paper in their hands. There’s nothing more gratifying than watching that happen and knowing exactly what went into the paper: literal blood, sweat and tears.”

Jenny Spinner, Ph.D., professor of English, became faculty advisor to The Hawk in 2006 and continues as a contributing advisor today. She says her work with the student journalists has been “one of the most fulfilling parts of my job at Saint Joseph’s.” She notes that as anti-media sentiment has grown in some segments of society, it’s become even more important for staffers to act professionally. “

That’s a lot of responsibility for people who are still growing into themselves and a lot of learning to have on their shoulders,” Spinner says. “When they start to understand the value of what they’re doing and they start to feel that, they get hungry for it.”

Staff members of today are encouraged to spend time looking back at The Hawk’s digital archives, which are part of the special collections of the Drexel Library, so they understand that decades from now, people will read the history of Saint Joseph’s in part through their work.

“One of our concerns about not having a print edition during this time is that if we don’t publish anything other than what’s online, we lose that historical record,” says current Hawk faculty advisor Shenid Bhayroo, Ph.D., assistant professor of English. “Just like now we are able to read stories from 50, 60, 90 years ago, we’d like to be able to have a repository of information documenting this time for the future.”

The Jesuits got a hold of me and for the next few years I did what I was supposed to do in college: I met people from different backgrounds and I grew up. I learned a lot about how the world is."

Tom Durso ’91, ’02 (MBA)

A Place to Grow

Talk to former staffers and you’ll hear tales of late nights, class schedules organized around deadlines and the stories, both big and small, that made a difference to them personally.

One of the stories that stands out to Faguy was Pope Francis’s visit to the Saint Joseph’s campus in 2015. That Sunday, most of the staff had biked into Center City to watch the Pope celebrate Mass. Faguy, a freshman at the time, decided to stay on campus and work on homework. But when she stopped in at Campion that morning, a buzz was in the air: The Pope was on his way to Hawk Hill. She immediately called the rest of the staff and told them to come back and then grabbed a prime spot in press row for the staff photographer.

“That night, we had to completely change our entire issue,” she recalls. “It was funny to just watch this surreal moment of the Secret Service on top of Campion, on top of Sourin Hall. And then you just saw the Popemobile pull into the Campion lot and it was like, ‘Are you kidding? Is this real?’”

Brothers Chris and Tom Durso worked on The Hawk in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They came to St. Joe’s knowing they wanted to be newspaper journalists, and used to commute home to New Jersey together very early in the mornings after putting the paper to bed.

Chris Durso remembers walking into the newsroom freshman year and “jumping right in to a lot of boilerplate stories: construction on campus, tuition hikes – the red meat of college journalism.” On Tuesday deadline nights (or very early the following morning), the last person out the door would leave a floppy disk containing all the copy with the campus security office so the printer could pick it up. (There was no backup copy.) Around lunchtime on Thursdays, a few staffers would drive to the printer in Northeast Philadelphia to mark page proofs as printing presses thundered over their heads.

“The whole newspaper experience was really the story of my experience at St. Joe’s,” says Chris Durso, who went on to work as a reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer and later became a writer and editor for nonprofit association magazines. “I probably spent more time in the newspaper office than anywhere else. Not that I wasn’t going to classes, but I spent any time I wasn’t in class at the newspaper. I would go there to study; just about all of my close friends from college to this day are people I worked with on the newspaper.”

Tom Durso ’91, ’02 (MBA), who later worked at Saint Joseph’s in the Office of Marketing and Communications and now works at Drexel University, says The Hawk was where he found his people: people who cared about the University and were invested in it, who loved writing and wanted to make a difference. His time at the paper also charted his growth during his time on Hawk Hill: Tom recalls writing a column freshman year that expressed controversial views he later rejected.

“The Jesuits got a hold of me and for the next few years I did what I was supposed to do in college: I met people from different backgrounds and I grew up. I learned a lot about how the world is,” he says. One of the last things he did before graduating was to write another column, owning up to the mistakes of the first one.

“That’s not me patting myself on the back,” Tom Durso says. “It’s more like casting the paper as the place where I grew up and started to develop a more nuanced and compassionate worldview.”

A Critical Mission

For some Hawk alums, journalism has become a career. Joe Lunardi ’82 says the time he spent covering college basketball for The Hawk ended up defining his career path, paving the way early on for his current gig as analyst and “bracketologist” for ESPN.

He got the beat because in the spring of his freshman year, the sports editor was also a drummer for the booster club and decided he wanted to play in the band rather than cover games.

I met all the TV people, all the beat writers, and in those days in sports media the beat writers were king."

Joe Lunardi ’82

“I was covering all the Big Five schools because at the time they all played at The Palestra at Penn. Penn, Temple, St. Joe’s, La Salle, Villanova, were all playing the bulk of their games at The Palestra in doubleheaders,” Lunardi says. “I met all the TV people, all the beat writers, and in those days in sports media the beat writers were king. I looked at that and I said, ‘That’s what I want to be.’ I kind of majored in college basketball through The Hawk.”

Hawk writers, editors and designers have gone on to positions with The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Athletic, Politico, The Washington Post, CBS News, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated and The Philadelphia Inquirer. But even for students who don’t choose that path, the skills they learn have lasting value, says J. Michael Lyons, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the communications and media studies department.

“You learn leadership skills, communication skills, the ability to interview people, to take a really complex issue and explain it to somebody who doesn’t know that much about it,” says Lyons, who served as faculty advisor from 2010-2012. “It reshapes your relationship to power, to be able to go up to an administrator and ask important questions. That will serve you well no matter where you end up.”

Lyons convinced Jessica Olenick ’13, who now works as a PR executive in Philadelphia, to join the staff when she was an undergrad. As editor-in-chief she started a tradition of posting the front page of each issue on the newsroom wall, and remembers how it felt to stand back at the end of her tenure and see the space filled with the staff’s work that semester.

“To see the University evolve and being there to witness it and communicate that not only to the campus, but to people in the community who were following it closely, was definitely a privilege,” she says. “I knew I had these interests, I knew that these were the different skills that I wanted to grow and Saint Joseph’s and The Hawk gave me the tools.”

As the coronavirus pandemic became more serious this spring, the Hawk staff juggled personal upheaval with their roles in documenting history. It’s not an unfamiliar balance for them, and one they take very seriously, Bhayroo says.

“They’re doing it because they really love it and enjoy what they do,” he says. “It’s testament to their desire to make sure they fulfill, in some measure, the University’s philosophical mission, which is to serve others. They’re doing that through their work, through speaking to all sorts of people in our community and making sure that they provide this critical role.”



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