In Memoriam

Pat Thompson, 1947-2010

By Professor Waddick Doyle / Created 2011-04-01

The end of 2010 brought the AUP community the very sad news that Pat Thompson, Assistant Professor of Global Communications, had passed away on December 20, after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage at the end of November. 

Pat was a distinguished professor at AUP who, during her career as television producer and documentary filmmaker, won two Emmy awards and covered some of the key news stories of the twentieth and early twenty-first century.  Pat leaves her husband, Jim Bittermann, CNN correspondent and AUP Associate Professor of Global Communications, and daughter Tess, a recent medical school graduate.

In 1975, Pat moved to Paris, working as a radio reporter and then as a senior producer for NBC news.  In this role she covered  major world news events such as the revolutions in Iran and the Philippines, the marriage and death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and the Soviet-American disarmament negotiations, amongst others.  Also working for ABC News’ Paris office, Pat created the Paris Bureau – producing programs and documentaries for American networks and cable channels whilst continuing to cover international news events.

Having worked at AUP since 1997, Pat almost single-handedly began the video production classes for students, using whatever material was available at the time – and finding the material when it wasn’t; cameras were brought and stored under her diningroom table, Pat lending them out to students at all hours of the day or night.  It is largely due to Pat that AUP today boasts a broadcast studio and editing facilities, and a thriving film department.  Pat was a hard taskmaster and always pushed students to achieve their best; a remarkable teacher, an inspirational individual and innovator. 

To honor Pat Thompson, we have the pleasure of announcing that the new broadcast studio and video production suite, situated in AUP’s Grenelle building, will be named The Pat Thompson Video Production Studio.

The Pat Thompson Memorial Scholarship Fund is also being launched in her memory, and will be used to finance a major student award.  The chosen student will present an interest in international news production and/or international journalism, and will prove both academic merit and financial need.  With The Pat Thompson Memorial Scholarship Fund, we hope to create an endowment to finance this scholarship, while maintaining the production studio and enhancing video production by students.

We are reaching out to the whole AUP community to contribute in any way they can, and make a difference to a student’s life.  Pat herself grew up in difficult conditions on the south side of Chicago, and worked hard against the odds to attend college, relying on scholarships and financial aid.  It would therefore be wonderful to think that through her name a student would receive this aid.  We hope to keep Pat’s memory alive, and to honor both her tireless work for AUP and her remarkable professional career.

If you would like to donate to The Pat Thompson Memorial Fund or receive any further information, please contact us.


“Pat always believed, as I do, that the closest a person can come to achieving immortality on earth is to teach; to pass along knowledge and experience so that it lives on in others.  She leaves behind hundreds of students, interns and colleagues who continue to follow in her footsteps and achieve greatness as she did.  From a poor neighborhood behind the Chicago stockyards, from a clapboard house across the street from a trucking terminal, Pat worked and fought to rise to the bright lights of the Champs Elysées and the sophisticated conversations of Paris salons.  She never forgot those who helped her along the way and never lost sight of the need to help others in the same way.  For that reason she would be so unbelievably proud of what AUP is creating in her name.”
Jim Bittermann, CNN correspondent and AUP Associate Professor of Global Communications, husband to Pat Thompson and father to Tess

“We will miss her dearly – her infectious smile, her hard work, her openness and her beautiful energy.  Above all, her generosity.”
– Professor Waddick Doyle, Director, Division of Global Communications and Film