"To Build Connections and Bring Light": Remembering Whitten Maher


Whitten Maher

The Whitten Maher
Memorial Scholarship
for Writing and Design

Written- or design-based submissions should address one or more of the scholarship criteria:

1) engage and educate audiences through a civic purpose

2) promote empathy rather than derision, or

3) encourage populations who feel unrecognized or misunderstood.

Submissions must include a thoughtful, descriptive cover letter that helps readers to appreciate how your work reflects the scholarship criteria.

For more information and to submit your work, visit the

Whitten Maher
Memorial Scholarship

In a world consumed by the "rage and rhetoric of revolution," Whitten Maher (BA, ’10, Political Science and WRTC) saw opportunities for reason and responsibility. In an increasingly partisan culture, he argued for “the engagement of two people and a frank, heartfelt discussion.” In a society that favors conformity over difference, he wrote for LGBT students who need to know that they are not alone.

Moments like these are available everywhere in Whitten Maher's work as Breeze Design Editor and Senior Writer/Columnist. For Maher, it wasn't always about "a specific issue or providing commentary." Sometimes, he suggested in a 2010 column titled "For You, Wherever You Are," "it's about speaking up in a sea of silence, an act of solidarity perhaps sparking a dialogue."

As one of Maher's colleagues at New York-based research and policy center Demos recalls, "Whitten possessed a focused energy and a clear-headed optimism. He truly believed in structural change, both in the fabric of our society, and in the processes and systems of communication."

The Whitten Maher Memorial Scholarship
for Writing and Design

The Whitten Maher Memorial Scholarship for Writing and Design commemorates Maher, who passed away on December 20, 2012, at the age of 25. "As tragic as Whitten’s death will always be,” one of Maher’s professors says, “he has given us an opportunity to create something that honors the great potential he had, a potential that lives in others.”

Now in its third year, the Whitten Maher Memorial Scholarship was established to encourage and recognize academic and nonacademic writing or design that conveys the compassion, intensity, and well-informed reasoning that were so much a part of Whitten Maher’s character. The $1,000 scholarship is open to all returning JMU undergraduates in all academic disciplines.

The Whitten Maher Memorial Scholarship website features a selection of Whitten Maher's Breeze columns in their original print format, along with remembrances from his JMU and Demos colleagues. For a more extended journey through Whitten Maher's work, search for "Whitten Maher on The Breeze website.

Submissions for the 2016 scholarship will be accepted through March 7, 2016 (EXTENDED DEADLINE).

Published: Monday, February 1, 2016

Last Updated: Thursday, May 31, 2018

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