‘Mickey was our leader’: Notre Dame journalism program benefactor dies after battle with cancer

“There isn’t a single story. I can’t give you a single instance that I would say sums him up for me,” Notre Dame graduate Anne Thompson said. “When I think of Mickey Gallivan, that’s what I think – commitment.”

Michael Dennis Gallivan, known to friends and family as Mickey, died Aug. 22, 2022, after a long battle with cancer. 

Thompson, chief environmental affairs correspondent for NBC News, said she knew Gallivan through her work on the advisory board of the Notre Dame John W. Gallivan journalism, ethics and democracy (JED) program.

The program, which students can take to earn a minor, bears the name of Mickey’s late father, John “Jack” W. Gallivan. Both Mickey and Jack Gallivan were graduates of Notre Dame in 1967 and 1937, respectively. 

As a gift to his father’s journalistic legacy with the Salt Lake Tribune, Mickey and other family members endowed the JED program with large financial gifts in 1999. He expressed that this endowment was meant to inspire young journalists. 

“For more than 60 years, Jack Gallivan has defined what journalistic excellence should be in the communities of America. He approaches his profession as a responsibility. Fairness, a pure heart, and rational leadership have been his life’s tools. His family hopes that by this endowment the John W. Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics & Democracy can inspire like-minded leaders in the world’s news media,” Mickey Gallivan said in a 1999 press release written by University spokesperson Dennis Brown. 

Brown said the University is thankful for the contributions made by Mickey to Notre Dame and to journalism. 

“The Notre Dame journalism program supported by Mr. Gallivan and his family has educated scores of students who are making a difference in the field and our country. The University community joins with his family and friends in mourning his passing while celebrating a life so very well lived,” he wrote in an email. 

The JED community within the University and beyond has expressed gratitude for Mickey’s continued presence in the program and sympathies for his loss. 

Jason Kelly, the interim director of the JED program, said he enjoys using the colloquial term “Gallivan program” to describe both Jack and Mickey’s contributions to the program. 

“The shorthand as we refer to it is the Gallivan Program because, for us, that means [Mickey’s] name is on it too. We’re thinking as much of Mickey as John, and that’s a testament to the impact he had,” Kelly said. “[Mickey] wasn’t someone who wanted a lot of credit for things.”

Although Kelly said he had only recently met Mickey, he explained how impactful his generosity and interest were to students. 

“The thing that really stands out [about Mickey] is just how he was just a really nice guy, really generous guy in every sense of the term,” Kelly said. “It was really important to him to stay involved and to stay up to date on what was happening. He loved hearing about what students were doing.”

Kelly also said he believed Mickey was a great role model for JED students. 

“He’s the kind of person that we all really aspire to be and certainly someone who represents what we want our students to become – a successful person, but also someone who’s contributing broadly to the community in valuable, beneficial ways and doing it with a lot of humility,” he said.

Thompson said the lasting impact Mickey made on her was his leadership style and commitment to everything he loved. 

“[Robert Schmuhl] led the advisory board, but certainly I always thought of Mickey as a leader of that board. He would not thump his chest or speak the loudest or speak the longest, but it was his passion and commitment that made him a leader in that group,” she explained.  

Thompson noted that working with Mickey inspired her to be a better journalist.

“[Mickey] could make me want to go out, go chase stories again,” she said. “If I was in a lull, he certainly had enthusiasm and passion, and when mine was waiting, just talking to him would inspire me.”

Robert Schmuhl, the founding director of the John W. Gallivan program, wrote an in memoriam remembrance of Mickey. In the piece, Schmuhl describes Mickey as “wise and merry.”

“Mickey’s personal commitment to Notre Dame’s Gallivan Program encompassed more than two decades. He served as an original — and continuing — member of the Advisory Board, faithfully participating in all the regular meetings. He brought wise, worldly suggestions to the discussions along with a smiling measure of Irish merriment,” Schmuhl said in the remembrance. 

Schmuhl wrote in an email to The Observer that Mickey Gallivan was an advocate for ethical journalism. 

“Mickey Gallivan understood the important role journalism plays in American democracy, and he became a champion of Notre Dame’s approach that puts ethical considerations central to all journalistic work,” Schmuhl said in an email. 

Mickey Gallivan will be laid to rest on Aug. 31, 2022, in his hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Bella Laufenberg

Contact Bella at


15 reasons to keep newspapers around

Nothing will put a damper on a bright-eyed college student like the journalism industry, but here’s the upside. I’ve compiled a list of 15 amazing uses for newspapers. Hint: The final reason is the most absurd of them all.

1. Dorm room fly swatter

Nothing works better than a rolled-up newspaper.

2. Annoying roommate swatter

I can’t say I didn’t deserve to be on the receiving end of this many times.

3. Basketball game confetti

There is something so cathartic about ripping up the past Observer edition to celebrate the first Irish basket.

4. Giant coaster for your coffee table

How else are you going to prevent everyone’s beverage cans from leaving rings on your Ikea quad common room furniture?

5. Paper airplane fodder

Don’t try to argue that printer paper is better for this purpose. Do you mean to say you shirk from a challenge?

6. Campfire kindling

Trust me, newspapers work better than those high-tech fire bricks. Didn’t the boy scouts teach you anything?

7. (In an extreme pinch) toilet paper

Can I get a little commotion from the broke college students who worked summer internships?

8. Umbrella that slowly grows soggy

I know you’ve been trapped inside North or South Dining Hall when it started pouring. Well, you could’ve saved your hair if you’d grabbed a copy of our latest edition. This ink bleeds to keep you dry.

9. Introvert’s best friend

Speaking from experience, reading or “reading” a newspaper is a phenomenal strategy to prevent social interaction.

10. Instant megaphone

This could also be called the introvert’s worst nightmare. Use the newspaper to blast insults at your friends as they walk to class. Amplify the effect by using an Irish Insider edition to wake up your neighbors on game day.

11. DIY personal fan

Those of you who don’t have AC, I hope you’re listening and learning.

12. Paint splatter absorber

This is one of the newspaper’s most monopolistic markets. Nothing works better to protect your floor from the latest art project.

13. Material to make little paper boats

Set your creations afloat on St. Mary’s Lake and take in a serene moment. You don’t have to worry about them getting lost at the bottom of the lake. Paper is biodegradable.

14. Two for one deal: material to make little paper hats

Let’s make this the new game day uniform. Irish wear green? More like Irish wear student journalism.

15. A resource to learn more about your community, educate yourself about the world around you and build a repertoire of engaging, diverse, conversational material.

Now this, this is truly preposterous. I know it’s rather radical to suggest such a use for a newspaper, but I hope you’ll give the Observer a chance to be part of your college experience. 

The Observer is here for you — the students of the tri-campus. We welcome your participation and feedback. This is your forum, whether that means reading the new edition over Monday morning dining hall coffee (my personal favorite), writing a Letter to the Editor, buying a classified ad to wish your friend a happy birthday or procrastinating your homework with a crossword puzzle. Say hi, email us and read the paper! We have copies available in student centers, dining halls and most of the academic buildings across the tri-campus.

In a culture often entrenched in social media feuds and one-sided conversations, I hope The Observer can be a place of respite for you to enjoy 16 pages of colorful stories about the Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross communities. From frontline football game coverage to the latest Netflix show review, there really is something for everyone. We hope you find yourself reflected in these pages. You are welcome here.

TL;DR: This is your student newspaper. Give it a read. Why not? 

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Maggie Eastland

Maggie is an Assistant Managing Editor at The Observer. Email her at