Bridges Travel Prize
One to two Bridges Prizes are awarded each year to students joint-majoring in journalism and a foreign language, with at least a 3.0 grade-point average in each major. Applications are accepted late in the fall semester, and selections are made by the chairpersons of the Pulliam School of Journalism and the department of modern languages.
About the Donors
In 1923, not long after graduating from Franklin College, Bill Bridges set out with a friend for a European walking tour. The tour didn't get far, but it led him to Paris and jobs on the Paris edition of the Chicago Tribune and the Paris Times. His fiancee, Lynn Vandivier, joined him in Paris a few months later and they were married on July 31, 1924, in the mairie of the 16th Arrondissement. Bill and Lynn were Johnson County natives. He was from Franklin; she was from a farm near Trafalgar, and was also a Franklin College graduate. A few months before Bill's death in 1984, he decided to leave much of his estate to the college so that students majoring in journalism and a foreign language could travel abroad. Lynn died in 1949, but he wanted her name included in the prize. "After all, she was in journalism in Paris in a kind of way," he wrote. "She was the Latin Quarter Correspondent during my years on the Paris Times. Space rates, but every little bit helped in those years. The income from his bequest, he thought, "ought to cover two or three summer months in France or Spain quite comfortably."
Bill's career as a newspaperman began with reporting during high school and college on the old Franklin Evening Star. At the college, he edited the Franklin and the Almanack and was a co-founder, with Ray Blackwell, of the Indiana High School Press Association. When he and Lynn returned from France in 1929, Bill became a rewrite man on the New York Sun and later the editor and curator of publications for the New York Zoological Society (the Bronx Zoo). He made several writing and animal-collecting expeditions for the zoo, including two to the Belgian Congo to help bring out a shipment of elephants and to search for the rare Congo Peacock. He also helped shepherd 10,000 earthworms to Panama to feed three duck-billed platypuses en route to the zoo from Australia. Bill wrote more than 20 books about animals, among them "Toco Toucan," "Zoo Doctor," "Zoo Babies," and "Gathering of Animals," a history of the zoological society. At their home in Pleasantville, N.Y., the Bridges entertained naturalists, writers, theater people, friends from Indiana---any one who enjoyed talk and hospitality.
Bill's interests ranged widely---flying, natural history, gardening, cooking travel, and always reading. ("Are you still reading yourself into eternity?" a friend once asked him.) His library reflected an interest in English literature and such favorites as Edmund Gosse, George Borrow, and Max Beerbohm. He kept writing to the end, tapping out letters and personal essays on the old Remington 16 that he had brought with him from his office at the zoo. "We still look for a letter from Bill every day," a friend wrote after his death. "The rhododendron he bought for our yard is outdoing itself this year---a living memorial to a most dear friend."
How the Program Works
The William and Lynn Vandivier Bridges Endowment has a principal of about $180,000, from the interest on which prizes are awarded annually to outstanding Franklin students who are majoring jointly in journalism and a foreign language. Students must be juniors by February of the year the prizes are to be used, and should have at least a 3.0 GPA in each major. Applications must be made in the fall before the summer of travel, and recipients will be selected by the chairpersons of the journalism and modern language departments.
Recipients are expected to spend the bulk of the time in countries of their language specialties and to undertake study projects. The prizes are to cover all travel and living expenses and to compensate students with financial need for money that would have been earned in summer jobs. The value of each prize is roughly $5,000. Students undertake the travel on their own responsibility, but the college will assist them in planning and making travel arrangements. A statement of the program's intent reads:
"We anticipate that the types of experience abroad will vary widely, based on how the student feels the summer can
be of the most value and on what format he or she is most comfortable with. Some students may elect to spend much
of the time traveling alone, visiting many areas of the country. Others may prefer to have more of a home base from
which to travel. Some award recipients may elect to travel together, at least part of the time. Travel with a tour is not
ruled out, nor are such arrangements as residence with a family abroad or an internship type of experience. While
the summer is not seen primarily as a classroom experience, no bar is seen to the student's taking class work or
some other academic experience in the country. While the main residence and travel should be in the country of
language specialty, it's anticipated that some grant funds could be used for travel to other countries in the area. In
short, the student should have considerable flexibility to propose a summer that will be enjoyable, educational, and
culturally enriching, in a format with which he or she is most comfortable."
Details about the prizes and the application process may be obtained from the chairpersons of the Pulliam School of Journalism and the modern language department.