The Delaware State University community is deeply mourning the passing of award-winning journalist and University Class of 2005 graduate Michael J. Feeney.
Mr. Feeney died of cardiac arrest early Sunday morning on January 31, 2016 after he had been hospitalized at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, N.J. about a week.
A popular student at DSU, Mr. Feeney honed his journalism skills as a mass communications/print journalism major as well as with The DSU Hornet student newspaper, where he began as a freshman reporter and culminated as the publication’s editor-in-chief.
“During his DSU years, Mike took advantage of every opportunity that was available to develop himself as a journalist,” said Carlos Holmes, director of News Services, who as advisor of The DSU Hornet worked very closely with Mr. Feeney. “He was one of the early members of the DSU Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), and took full advantage of having daily access to DeWayne Wickham, USA Today columnist, who taught advanced journalism courses at DSU during Mike’s undergraduate years.”
Dr. Marcia Taylor, assistant professor of mass communications, called Mr. Feeney “one of the DSU Mass Communications Department’s best and brightest, who loved his peers on campus, our department, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and DSU.” She said that she was profoundly saddened by his passing.
“I vividly remember Mike as a student in my Editorial and Feature Writing class where he successfully juggled assignments, managing The Hornet newspaper staff, and fraternity life,” Dr. Taylor said. “He has mentored current students and recent graduates, helping them to transition successfully as media professionals. This is a monumental loss that most of us still cannot put our minds around.”
Mr. Feeney’s leadership skills as head of The Hornet and his other constructive activities at the University were recognized during his 2005 graduation when he was presented the Presidential Leadership Award.
His undergraduate preparation showed upon graduation, as he immediately landed a job as a writer/reporter with the Associated Press. He would later write for the New York Daily News; his journalism work there led to the NABJ recognizing him in 2010 as the Emerging Journalist of the Year.
Mr. Feeney maintained a strong network of journalism connections through his active involvement with the NABJ. In 2011, he was elected as the president of the New York Chapter of the NABJ.
Amid his journalism activity, he never forgot his alma mater, often returning to participate in the annual DSU Mass Communications Day in the spring to share his experience and advice with the DSU students.
“I remember bringing him back for the first Mass Comm Day symposium that I coordinated and being in awe of how entrenched and knowledgeable he was as a young journalist,” said Dr. Francine Edwards, current chair of the DSU Department of Mass Communications. “But even more amazing was his passion for the undergraduates and this University. Feeney was a staple here and a true trailblazer.”
In 2014, Mr. Feeney returned to DSU to serve as the Convocation speaker that September.
DSU President Harry L. Williams recalls that Mr. Feeney’s Convocation address gave the students some valuable advice for the future. “He didn’t sugarcoat the challenges that are faced in the real world after graduation, but he noted the importance of using their undergraduate years to prepare themselves to achieve future excellence and professional success,” the DSU president said.
At the time of his fatal illness, Mr. Feeney was preparing to begin a coveted job as an entertainment reporter for CNN.com in Atlanta.
Due to the huge outpouring of expressions of love in the wake of Mr. Feeney’s passing, the following funerals will be held on two separate days in New York City and in New Jersey:
- A viewing will be held on Monday, Feb. 8 from 9-11 a.m. followed immediately by an 11 a.m. funeral at First Corinthian Baptist Church, 1912 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., New York, NY 10026.
- A viewing will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 9 from 4-6 p.m. followed immediately by a 6 p.m. funeral at Community Baptist Church, 224 First Street, Englewood, N.J. 07631.
Source: Delaware State University