Newhouse Dean Reflects on Death of S.I. Newhouse Jr.

NCC News' Chris Thomsen reports from the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications, where Dean Lorraine Branham discusses memories of longtime donor and magazine giant S.I. Newhouse Jr.

By Chris Thomsen SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — In her nine-plus years as the dean of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Lorraine Branham met with S.I. Newhouse Jr., the son of the school’s namesake, only a few times.

But the moments she shared with “Si” were memorable. She still recalls her introductory lunch with Newhouse, once she was selected to replace Dean David Rubin in 2008.

“I had lunch with Si in the famed Condé Nast cafeteria,” Branham said. “He wanted to hear what I thought about the school, what I thought about what was going on in the industry.

“And he was always just very warm and gracious.”

The famed magazine owner passed away in his Manhattan home on Sunday at the age of 89. Newhouse was responsible for the rise of magazines such as Variety Fair, Vogue, The New Yorker and more. He hired prominent editors like Anna Wintour and Graydon Carter to run his magazines while spending his company’s money lavishly. Condé Nast’s flashy, prestigious culture created a distinct brand for the entire industry.

To some, Newhouse’s death marks the end of the ways of the traditional magazine business. Budgets continue to get slashed while editors and writers are forced to write not just for the physical magazine, but for online publications as well.

“It probably started before now,” Branham said. “But I think people see it as an end.”

That doesn’t mean Newhouse’s impact in the media world has come to a close. He continues to affect journalists, photographers and more due to his massive contributions to the school that his father led to prominence.

In 2004, Si and his younger brother, Donald, donated $15 million for the construction of the Newhouse III wing, one of dozens of contributions the duo made to the institution.

Their support enabled Dean Branham to continue to push for renovations and new initiatives, including the construction of the Dick Clark Studios and the Alan Gerry Center for Media Innovation. She didn’t know how to feel about asking the Newhouse brothers for a contribution, as it was only a year after the completion of Newhouse III.

“I didn’t really expect anything from them,” Branham said. “But they said, well, we know you’ve got a lot to go out there and raise. And we want to help.”

That endless support has set the foundation for the next generation of magazine owners to thrive. Whether it involved Syracuse University or one of his of magazines, Newhouse was always willing to do whatever he needed to enable others.

“It’s nice to know that the people who can make a difference in your and career are behind you,” Branham said.