For journalism school alumna Joan Licursi, the education she received at St. Bonaventure University provided the bedrock for more than 45 years of work in national and global companies and non-profit organizations.
As a student at St. Bonaventure in the mid-1960s, Licursi left the women’s dorm that sat across from St. Bonaventure University and headed to work in the school’s journalism department. Only she didn’t go to the John J. Murphy Professional Building, which would not exist for more than another decade. Instead, she entered Plassmann Hall and descended the stairs, where the one-room department was then located.
“At that time, the whole journalism administrative department was one room,” Licursi, a 1965 graduate, said. “We had a couple of newspaper rooms upstairs, but it was nothing like it is today.”
But the small school just made Licursi and the 14 other journalism students in the class of 1965 work even harder, she said.
“We were all part of The BV, the radio and the magazine,” said Licursi, referring to the campus’s student-run media.
In fact, it was the small, strong school that captured Licursi’s interest in the first place.
“I was looking for a school that had a good communications department,” said Licursi, who had been the editor of her high school’s newspaper. “And Bona’s met all the requirements.”
As a junior and senior, she spent much of her time putting together the school’s yearbook and even served as its editor, filling in for a classmate who took a medical leave of absence his senior year.
“I tried to make it something unique,” Licursi, a native of Greenwich Village in Manhattan, said. “I honestly feel having all our memories captured in one place is something special.”
Licursi said while the students were very successful in their work, they couldn’t have done it without great mentorship.
And who better to lead the students than Russell Jandoli, the founder of the school?
“I attended St. Bonaventure in the era of Jandoli,” she said. “I worked in the journalism department and I worked for Russ. He was a huge mentor to me.”
Licursi said Jandoli and other professors in the journalism department required her to work like a professional while in college.
“It’s just my opinion, but I always thought the journalism students worked harder,” she said. “We were working with multiple publications and had to be a team. We had semi-professional things to do and still take all our classes.”
Licursi received the Mark Hellinger Award, the highest award given by the journalism school, in 1965.
Although busy as a leader in the journalism school, Licursi also led another small, but powerful campus group.
“There were only 40 women in our class on campus,” she said. “And we weren’t allowed on the student senate.”
Despite the struggle, as a senior Licursi became president of the school’s Women’s Council, where her work helped make many changes, including advocating for moving the women’s housing to campus. Her class was the last class to live totally off campus, she said.
“I feel we were in a moment of changing history,” she said.
Licursi’s strong work ethic and determination continued far past her four years at St. Bonaventure.
After graduation, Licursi attended American University, where she received her master’s degree in journalism in one year.
Since then, she has worked as a managing director for Burson-Marstellar, a global public relations and communications firm, and as a senior vice president for Gilda’s Club Worldwide, a community organization for people living with cancer.
She also worked for Boys and Girls Clubs of America, a non-profit organization that helps community youth. There, she served as publications editor and got involved with branding and program-training efforts.
But she never forgot St. Bonaventure.
“Initially, following graduation, I wasn’t as attached to St. Bonaventure as I was to the journalism school,” she said.
However, that soon changed. A longtime supporter of St. Bonaventure, Licursi has been a member of the National Alumni Association Board and a volunteer for The Bonaventure Fund. She served as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees from 1994 to 2003. Today, she is a member of the Devereux Giving Society and serves on the Advisory Board for the Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She received the Journalism Alumnus of the Year Award in 1981 and the University’s Alumnus of the Year Award in 1995.
“I loved the idea of giving back,” she said. “My Bonaventure education provided the foundation for my entire professional career.”
Fifty years after her graduation, Licursi once again walked the campus of St. Bonaventure with her friends, celebrating her 50th reunion last June.
She said the top-of-the-line academic skills and lessons in ethics that she learned are still evident in the school’s programs.
“I was blown away with how the campus looks,” she said. “The programs are competitive with some of the best schools in the country. I think other people will see this, too. It’s very evident once you’re there in person.”
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