Remembering the Frechettes — funders of The O’Brien Fellowship

Peter Frechette with student Kelly Meyerhofer and 2015–16 O’Brien Fellows at the program’s 2015 conference.

As The O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism welcomes a new group of fellows to campus, we wanted to take a moment to remember Patricia and Peter Frechette — the generous donors who launched the program in 2012-’13. Peter died in February at age 79, just five months after Patricia passed away at a year younger.

The couple donated $8.3 million to the Marquette University Diederich College of Communication in honor of Patricia’s parents, Perry and Alicia O’Brien, who graduated from Marquette in 1936 and 1935, with degrees in journalism and liberal arts, respectively.

The Frechettes spent a majority of their lives in Minneapolis and remained actively involved in the fellowship, attending the annual conferences as seen in the photos below.

Patricia Frechette at the 2014 O’Brien Fellowship Conference.
The Frechettes with (left to right) Lori Bergen, previous Dean of the Diederich College of Communication, and 2013–14 O’Brien Fellows Hal Bernton, Lillian Thomas and Dan Egan.

In February, Pete’s passing was noted campus wide.

Pat and Pete drew praise from Diederich College Dean Kimo Ah Yun.

The Frechettes often noted that they aimed “to create a better future for in-depth news reporting in America.”

Below is a video from the 2016 O’Brien conference, at which Pat talked about the inspiration for starting the fellowship. When discussing her father’s passion for journalism, she stated: “He lived it every day, and it was often a dinner table conversation, which has lasted a lifetime.”

Read more about the Frechettes and the legacy of The O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism.

Like what you read? Give O'Brien Fellowship a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.