Photo: Andy Keil ('12)
“General manager” barely begins to describe Chris Richert’s role in Columbia College Chicago’s Journalism Department. Between overseeing student-run publications—campus newspaper The Columbia Chronicle and Echo Magazine—and assisting department chair Nancy Day, Richert really shines behind the scenes.
As a 1999 graduate, Richert has been a proud member of the college community for 16 years, making him an insightful resource for students. Whether he is solving a miniature crisis with the Chronicle’s front page or offering advice to a frustrated staff member, Richert is most comfortable celebrating students’ well-deserved accomplishments—often watching from the wings ready to help if need be.
“I wear many hats here, but what keeps me going is watching students discover their passions and talents,” Richert says. “I enjoy watching the students do the best that they can.”
As a Columbia student in the 1990s, Richert studied in the Television Department and was a producer for the college’s Music Live, an MTV-style show that featured local Chicago bands. He also sold ads for The Columbia Chronicle and interned for The Jerry Springer Show, where he briefed guests, preparing them for their television debut and the impending shenanigans.
“What keeps me going is watching students discover their passions and talents. I enjoy watching the students do the best that they can.”
Of his experience, Richert jokes, “Jerry Springer wasn’t for me. It wasn’t dysfunctional enough.”
Richert’s sense of humor is equaled by his serious scholarship support.
“Watching students struggle financially hits home,” Richert says. “I give because I can actually see the difference it makes in each and every student. I can see them walking through the door.”
Richert donates to several Columbia scholarship initiatives, including the Alumni Scholarship Fund, an award dedicated to supporting junior- and senior-year students, and the John Fischetti Scholarship, which was established in memory of the late political cartoonist and awarded annually to outstanding journalism students.
He also gives to the Sharon Palermo Scholarship, which was established to support talented students who are committed to careers in the television industry.
“Sharon’s husband, Luke Palermo, was one of my teachers,” Richert says, “and he was by far one of the most profound teachers I had. He really cared about his students. He got to know them on an appropriately personal level as well as a professional level.”
To anyone familiar with Richert, it’s obvious that, like Palermo, he too cares about Columbia’s students.
—Becca James (B.A. ’11)