Columbia Scholastic Press Association

CSPA is an international student press association, founded in 1925, whose goal is to unite student journalists and faculty advisers at schools and colleges through educational conferences, idea exchanges, textbooks, critiques and award programs.

2006 Murphy Citation

2006 Joseph M. Murphy Award citation for Charles R. O'Malley

In 1940 a young man entered Columbia College in New York City to complete a bachelor’s degree. Raised in small town Iowa, he intended to pay his own way while studying for his degree in economics. He worked at several jobs around campus, including a stint as superintendent of a small apartment building and associate business manager of the campus newspaper. When he found his way to the tiny offices of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, a lifetime interest was born.

Charles R. O’Malley graduated from Columbia College in 1944. He worked successively for Pan American Airways and several oil companies, rising to marketing manager in West Africa for Mobil Corporation. He returned to the United States in 1948 and took a management job with a major shipping company, becoming one of about 100 brokers then active worldwide as specialists in arranging shipments on oil tankers.  In 1961 he joined an advertising firm that represented radio stations to agencies here in New York. In 1966 he found himself semi-retired but still wanting to “keep busy”, as he described it.

During his business career, O’Malley had always stayed involved with CSPA events, attending convention luncheons and keeping in contact with Colonel Joseph Murphy, the CSPA’s founding director. Murphy asked O’Malley if he would “help out a bit,” as he almost casually described it. O’Malley agreed, and found himself appointed CSPA’s first associate director. When Murphy retired in 1969, O’Malley was appointed his successor.

His twelve years as director were marked by change at Columbia as well as student unrest and enrollment declines in the participating schools. The University faced serious budget shortfalls, and began charging for many services it had previously provided for free. Member schools that had long supported the CSPA by paying its fees faced their own budget problems. The student newspapers, yearbooks and magazines that made up the CSPA confronted new challenges of their own concerning the First Amendment and changes in lifestyle and attitude among their readers and staffs. It was not easy for O’Malley to manage rising expectations while trying to keep the CSPA both solvent and relevant.

Even his retirement in 1981 did not stop O’Malley’s interest in students or in the CSPA. He attended every CSPA event that he could, keeping a keen interest in its affairs. Concerned about preserving its future, he surprised everyone by donating one million dollars to Columbia University between 1993 and 1998 to create the Charles R. O’Malley/CSPA Fund as a permanent endowment to support the CSPA.  A later donation to the Student Press Law Center began that worthy organization’s current Campaign for Tomorrow’s Voices, a capital drive for which he serves as honorary co-chair. 

For his continuing interest and support of its work in a most fundamental and enduring manner, and for his unselfish gift of himself, the Columbia Scholastic Press Association is proud to honor Charles R. O’Malley with its Joseph Murphy Award for Outstanding Service for 2006.


This citation was written and presented by Edmund J. Sullivan, executive director of the Association.  For more information on Charles O'Malley, click on this link.