"We All Need a Voice": Remembering Whitten Maher



Read any Breeze article by Whitten Maher—here are nine of them—and you'll appreciate the JMU Foundation Scholarship that the Maher family has founded in his name.

While working as a Breeze writer, designer, and Opinion editor, Whitten Maher argued for reason and responsibility in a world consumed by the "rage and rhetoric of revolution." He found room for “the engagement of two people and a frank, heartfelt discussion” about matters on

  • Sexuality and Gender Identity: Maher wrote for and to LGBT students to let them know they are not alone.
  • Popular culture: “The novelty of a real-time television series helped, but it was the marriage of this format with our deepest cultural fears that solidified Jack Bauer’s place in the cultural zeitgeist.
  • Politics: “Fame and fascination are deciding the most important election in recent history. They always do, of course, but the extent to which our candidates are embracing and capitalizing on celebrity this campaign season is disgraceful.”
  • Social activism: “This is 2009, after all: Activism is equated with naïveté, and passion is taken for kookiness. Yet the sight was a powerful one: Thousands of men and women standing in front of the Capitol, calling for rights that politicians should have recognized long ago.”

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.”

Quote by Whitten Maher

Maher, who passed away on December 20, 2012, at the age of 25, is remembered through The Whitten Maher Memorial Scholarship. Now in its fifth year, the Scholarship encourages and recognizes academic and nonacademic writing and design that conveys the compassion, intensity, and reasoning reflected in Whitten Maher's work. 

The $1,000 scholarship is open to all returning JMU undergraduates in all academic disciplines

For submission information, see the Whitten Maher Memorial Scholarship website. Featured there is 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, type "Whitten Maher" into The Breeze site's search bar. 

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Published: Monday, January 29, 2018

Last Updated: Saturday, January 25, 2020

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