Newspaper publisher/civic leader Philip Power aids U-M publications

March 30, 2006

ANN ARBOR—Philip Power is widely known as a newspaper publisher, a civic leader, an influential columnist and former University of Michigan Regent. But he traces his leadership experience to 1960 when he served as editorial director of The Michigan Daily.

Power and his wife Kathy are giving back to his first newspaper with a $500,000 gift toward a project to renovate, restore and upgrade the University’s Stanford Lipsey Student Publications Building, home to the Daily, U-M’s student newspaper, the Michiganensian yearbook, the Gargoyle humor magazine and the Student Directory.

Power joined the Daily in 1959, rising to editorial director in 1960. After graduating, he took another leadership role, serving as sports editor and then city editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner before becoming a Marshall Scholar, studying at University College in Oxford, England where he simultaneously worked as a stringer for the Chicago Daily News.

By 1965, Power had returned to metro Detroit to start his own newspaper company, HomeTown Communications Network, which grew to 65 community newspapers including the first daily newspaper started in Michigan in 45 years, the Livingston Daily Press & Argus, which was named Newspaper of the Year by the Michigan Press Association in 2004.

In November 2004, Power sold the company to Gannett, Co. Inc., the nation’s largest newspaper company and owner of more than 100 dailies including USA Today, the Detroit Free Press and the Lansing State Journal.

“It was the Daily that gave me my start and pointed me in the direction of newspapering,” Power said.” The skills I learned there?observation, concision, writing quickly under deadline pressure, seeing patterns beneath the surface froth?served me well over the years. And the friendships made and the achievements shared will forever rest happily on my mind.

“I’m particularly proud that I was able to play some part in generating the ideas that reached fruition as the Peace Corps proposal made by Jack Kennedy in his famous speech in Ann Arbor in October 1960.”

During that era, Kennedy made a campaign stop at U-M’s Michigan Union where he spoke impromptu and asked a waiting crowd of students if they’d be willing to devote a few years to help people in underdeveloped countries, a vision that ultimately became the Peace Corps. More than four decades years later, U-M continues to be a leader in the number of recruits attracted to the corps.

“Phil Power’s ability to call it as he sees it, and to bring together people and stimulate ideas to solve problems, has enabled him to make a real difference,” said U-M President Mary Sue Coleman.” We are truly grateful for this contribution from Phil and Kathy that will help us develop new generations of journalists and writers prepared to make their mark on society.”

U-M’s historic Student Publications Building at 420 Maynard St., designed by the architectural firm Pond & Pond, Martin & Lloyd and opened in 1932, is known for its tiled roof, multi-colored stained glass windows, its decorative tile and arched newsroom ceiling. But it was built at a time when the Associated Press operated a news wire on Morse code and the ballpoint pen was still a writing instrument of the future.

The gifts support improvements that will preserve the building’s history while making it more accessible. Improvements will include new heating, wiring and the addition of air conditioning.

Stanford Lipsey, a Buffalo, N.Y. newspaper publisher who similarly started his journalism career in the building while attending U-M, earlier contributed $3 million toward the project.

The Powers’ gift is made in support of The Michigan Difference, the University’s $2.5 billion fund-raising campaign.

The Power Center for the Performing Arts at U-M is named for his parents, Sadye and Eugene Power, who met at U-M when they were students. Sadye was a clinical psychologist and Eugene became a successful businessman. Both worked tirelessly for U-M, donating their time and support to give back to the University.

Power has continued that family tradition by serving Michigan in a number of roles. His father was a regent from 1956 to 1966 while his first wife, the late Sarah Goddard Power, was a regent in the 1980s. Power succeeded her, serving as a regent from 1987 to 1998. He also serves on the boards of the University Musical Society and as vice chairman of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. He recently set up the Center for Michigan, a” think and do” tank that together with U-M’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy brought a host of the state’s top leaders and thinkers to U-M to come up with strategies for improving Michigan’s economy.

In addition to their gift to Student Publications, the Powers and the Power Foundation have made gifts to several other U-M units including the Sadye Harwick Power Fund in the Psychology Department; the University Musical Society, the Knight Wallace Fellows, the Center for the Education of Women, and the Eugene Power Collection in the University Library.

“My family has always believed in the obligation of giving back ? to the society that has sustained us and to the institutions that have assisted us,” Power said.” That’s why it’s such a pleasure for Kathy and me to help out in the much-needed renovation of the Student Publications Building. I hope many future generations of Daily staffers benefit as much from their experience as I did.”

More on the U-M Board for Student Publications