Maury Povich donates $1M to Writers House

The Daily Pennsylvanian
March 28, 2011

Television talk show host and 1962 College graduate Maury Povich is making a $1 million gift to the Kelly Writers House to establish the Povich Fund for Journalism Programs.

While the endowment will not be used directly in the curriculum toward classes, it will help fund and expand journalism programs by defraying the costs of projects and events, said Al Filreis, faculty director of the Kelly Writers House.

Povich has long been a supporter of journalism at Penn, Filreis said.

In 2006, Povich and his wife, Connie Chung — a fellow reporter, anchor and talk show host — endowed a faculty position in Creative Writing, bringing in Dick Polman from The Philadelphia Inquirer as the first-ever Writer-in-Residence to promote and respond to student interest in journalism.

"On the basis of Povich's generosity, we were able to bring in Dick Polman, who in turn brought in colleagues of his own from the world of journalism … and in a circular way, that fueled even more interest in students in journalism," Filreis said.

Polman currently teaches English 160,"Long-Form Journalism," a requirement for the new journalism minor established last fall, and English 161, "The Art of the Profile."

"It has long been clear to me that [Povich] wants to give something back to the profession," Polman said. "Maury has journalism deep in his DNA."

Povich’s father, Shirley Povich, was a "legendary" Washington Post sports journalist who wrote for more than 60 years and was highly revered in his field, Polman said.

Povich spoke greatly about his father during his visit to Penn in 2006 and "in part, Maury’s gift is in honor and memory of his father," Filreis said.

Although Shirley Povich did not attend Penn, Polman said Maury's donation was done "with his father in mind" in light of Writers House's efforts to build a better and more comprehensive program in journalism.

"He knew that if he gave the money to his alma mater, it would have a major impact," Polman said.

To most students, though, Povich is perhaps best known for his work on Maury, otherwise known as The Maury Povich Show.

"It's great to see people supporting writing and journalism," College senior and former Daily Pennsylvanian contributing writer Maggie McGrath said.

"Ultimately, the focus should be that he’s donating $1 million to support the writing department," added McGrath, who hopes to pursue a career in journalism after graduation.