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Trailblazing Journalist Georgie Anne Geyer Leaves Legacy at Dominican

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Legendary foreign correspondent Georgie Anne Geyer passed on May 15 in her home in Washington, DC. Geyer established at Dominican the Georgie Anner Geyer Initiative, including her namesake lecture featuring renowned foreign correspondents. Geyer received an honorary degree from the university in 2016, the same year the Geyer Lecture was launched with distinguished journalist Marvin Kalb. Subsequent Geyer Lectures featured journalists Hedrick Smith and David Jones in 2017 and Rukmini Callimachi in 2018.

An intrepid foreign correspondent for more than 50 years, Geyer reported from some of the most challenging hotspots in the world. She witnessed firsthand the fall of the Berlin Wall, the war that raged across the Balkans, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the almost constant unrest in the Middle East. She covered revolutionaries in the Dominican Republic, was held by authorities during civil war in Angola, and was threatened by death squads in Guatemala.

Renowned for her in-depth interviews of world leaders, including the good, the bad and the ugly, Geyer was the first Western reporter to gain access to Iraq's Saddam Hussein and interviewed Fidel Castro, Juan Peron, Yassar Arafat, Anwar Sadat, Muammar Gaddafi and the Ayatollah Khomeini, among many others. In a male-dominated field and at a time when female foreign correspondents were anomalies, Geyer defied gender bias and, as a result, has served as a role model for generations of aspiring, young women journalists.

But before she started traipsing around the globe, Geyer was a Chicago girl. She graduated from Calumet High School and Northwestern University and started her career at the Southtown Economist before moving on to the venerable Chicago Daily News. where she sat next to another legendary reporter, Mike Royko. In her first scoop, she covered a Mafia wedding disguised as a cocktail waitress.  Her front-page, above-the-fold story began with the sentence, "The mob went to a party—and I went along for the ride."  And what a ride it was!

Fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, German and Russian, Geyer was the author of a number of books on Latin America, Russia and the Middle East as well as an acclaimed biography of Fidel Castro, Guerilla Prince, and an autobiography, Buying the Night Flight. Her most recent book, Predicting the Unthinkable, Anticipating the Impossible, is a compilation of domestic and foreign dispatches in which she anticipated the fall of the Communist empire, the conflicts that eventually tore apart the Balkans, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the attack on the World Trade Towers. 

Geyer received the Daniel Pearl Award in 2009 for outstanding investigative reporting was nominated for a lifetime achievement Pulitzer Prize.

The Georgie Anne Geyer Initiative will have an impact on future generations of reporters through a scholarship program at Dominican University that will support experiential learning opportunities for aspiring foreign correspondents. We are profoundly grateful to Gera-Lind Kolarik, a Dominican alumna, whose generosity makes this initiative possible—and to the donors who, because of Gera-Lind, have supported the effort. ​

You can read Rick Kogan's obituary in the Chicago Tribune here