University reviews Thomas diversity award

June 8, 2010 at 6:17 PM

DETROIT, June 8 (UPI) -- A Michigan university said it may retire the name of its media diversity awards after veteran reporter Helen Thomas retired in the wake of divisive remarks.

Wayne State University's journalism school honors local media professionals annually with the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Awards, established to "recognize her role in promoting diversity in media and issues of race in America," Booth Newspapers reported Tuesday.

The 89-year-old Thomas, who grew up in Detroit and graduated from Wayne State, announced her immediate retirement Monday after being criticized for remarks suggesting Israel should "get the hell out of Palestine" and suggesting Jews should "go home." She made the remarks during an interview that later was posted on the Internet.

Thomas apologized and said in a statement that her comments "do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance."

Ben Burns, director of the Wayne State's journalism school, said it may be time "to retire the Helen Thomas name on the (Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Awards) reception."

The university still would offer a Helen Thomas journalism scholarship, Burns said.

Richard Nodel, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metro Detroit, said keeping Thomas's name attached to the honor "certainly devalues whatever meaning the award has had in the past or might have in the future."

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