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Award-winning, respected Bellisario College faculty member dies from cancer

Curt Chandler with a student
Curt Chandler (right) watches a multimedia reporting project with then-student Min Xian in 2016.

An award-winning, beloved Penn State faculty member who consistently supported students and worked tirelessly to ensure their success died Monday, Jan. 31, after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Curt Chandler, an associate teaching professor in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, was 64.

Chandler, a member of the Department of Journalism, joined Penn State after compiling more than 25 years of newsroom experience. He was a storyteller at heart — consistently striving to find the best platforms to entertain and inform people. Chandler was committed to providing real-life opportunities for students and consistently brought a can-do, upbeat approach to his work with students.

As a teacher his areas of expertise included multimedia reporting, journalism entrepreneurship, newsroom management and engaging news audiences across multiple platforms.

“We are heartbroken about this great loss to the Bellisario College. Curt was an incredible example of what it means to be passionate about his teaching and centered on student success. He changed lives with his absolute belief in students and his dedication to helping them achieve their potential,” said Dean Marie Hardin. “Everyone who interacted with him was fortunate.”

He and his wife, Stacie, helped make the Centre Film Festival a reality, and two of their children graduated from the Bellisario College — Vincent, who earned his journalism degree in 2012, and Madeline, who earned her media studies degree in 2014.

FULL OBITUARY: Curtis William Chandler

As a tribute to his impact and legacy, Chandler’s family, friends and the Bellisario College have established the “Chandler Grant for Storytelling,” a nonendowed fund intended to provide support for multimedia storytelling activities and programs, both domestic and abroad, for students. Gifts may be made to the fund to honor Chandler and provide a way to continue his impact and influence with students.

“Curt’s enthusiasm for journalism was matched only by his enthusiasm for his students. He was full of great story ideas, and he pushed his students to do their best work,” said Russ Eshleman, associate teaching professor and head of the Department of Journalism. “No matter if it was along a rural stretch of Potter County, in the hubbub of a Baltimore neighborhood or the streets of Hong Kong, he always looked for ways to help students succeed.”

Before joining the University, Chandler was the editor for online innovation and director of photography for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He also taught photojournalism at Duquesne University from 1998 to 2005. Chandler's professional background included working as a photographer, writer and editor for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Ogden Standard-Examiner in Utah and the Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado.

In January 2015 Chandler was a fellow at the Scripps Howard Journalism Entrepreneurship Institute at Arizona State University's Cronkite School of Journalism. He previously participated in the Poynter Institute Picture Editing and Newsroom Leadership workshop. He helped to organize seminars for the Online News Association, the National Press Photographers Association and the Vatican press corps. He also presented to the Society for News Design, the Inland Press Association, the American Press Institute, the Satellite News Network and many other media organizations.

Chandler was a founding faculty member of Penn State's Keystone Multimedia Workshop, the University of Kentucky's Picture Kentucky workshop and the Kent State Multimedia Workshop. He was a coach for many years at the NPPA Multimedia Immersion workshop. Chandler also edited two books on photojournalism: "The Great Picture Hunt II" by David LaBelle (2006) and "Vision, Courage and Heart" by Bob Lynn (2013).