Speakers series pays tribute to former journalism professor


Kay was advisor to the Hilltop Views from 2005 to 2008.

Nationally recognized journalists may be coming to Austin soon with the help of the Headliners Foundation and the Michele Kay Distinguished Speakers Series.

The idea for the series came from Robert Schultz, husband of Michele Kay, a former journalism professor at St. Edward’s University with a vibrant past in journalism. She passed away on Feb. 16.

“[Schultz] was trying to think of a way to honor [Kay’s] memory, and he came to the Headliners Foundation,” said Elizabeth Christian, president of Elizabeth Christian and Associates Public Relations and volunteer chair for the series.

Christian said Schultz went to the Headliners Foundation with the idea for the speaker series, and the Headliners Foundation decided to host the series. Schultz’s original plan to honor Kay involved funding scholarships in her honor, but he wanted to create the speaker series to bring more attention to journalism.

“Schultz was thinking about a way to fund scholarships, but the Michele Kay Distinguished Speaker Series might be a better way than just funding scholarships,” Christian said. “We can do this with the nationally recognized journalists by letting them speak to people to keep the whole notion of journalism important.”

According to its website, the Headliners Foundation of Texas was created in 1983 by the board of trustees of the Headliners Club, a private club in downtown Austin, in order to promote excellence in journalism.

The Headliners Club was “created to bring people together to make the headlines and write the headlines,” Christian said.

According to Christian, funding scholarships has been the Headliners Foundation’s mission for many years. The foundation also funds fellowships for working journalists. The Headliners Foundation will charge change admissions to the speeches in order to raise funds for the scholarships in honor of Kay.

Besides members of the Headliners Club, fans of journalism, fans and friends of Kay, and Kay’s former students are hoped to be a part of the audience of the series.

“We want St. Edward’s University and its students to be a big part of [the Michele Kay Speaker Series],” Christian said.

After a long career as a journalist working for newspapers around the world, Kay received her Bachelor’s degree from the St. Edward’s New College program in 2002 and proceeded to receive her master’s degree from St. Edward’s as well.

Kay also worked to transform Hilltop Views from a bi-monthly Student Life newsletter to a weekly newspaper run by a paid staff in the School of Humanities.

The Michele Kay Speaker Series had one event in early September that featured distinguished Texas journalists.