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Updated 2:30 PM April 12, 2006
 

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Power generosity aids U-M student publications

Philip Power widely is known as a newspaper publisher, a civic leader, an influential columnist and former U-M 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, 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 and 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 started in Michigan in 45 years, the Livingston Daily Press & Argus. The paper was named the 2004 Newspaper of the Year by the Michigan Press Association.

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 says. "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 the 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 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," President Mary Sue Coleman says. "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."

The 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, decorative tile and arched newsroom ceiling. The gifts support improvements that will preserve the building's history while making it more accessible. Upgrades will include new heating, wiring and the addition of air conditioning.

Lipsey, a Buffalo, N.Y. newspaper publisher, who similarly started his journalism career in the building while attending U-M, has 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.

"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 says.

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