Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stanford Lipsey has agreed to donate $3 million to renovate the 73-year-old Student Publications Building, which has not been significantly altered since it was built.

Angela Cesere
The Student Publications Building, which houses The Michigan Daily, The Michiganensian and The Gargoyle, is expected to be renovated next year. The funding for the renovation will come largely from a donation by publisher Stanford Lipsey. (MIKE HULSEBUS/D

Lipsey will sign an agreement to donate the funds in University President Mary Sue Coleman’s office today.

His donation will provide most of funds necessary to gut much of the inside of the building, which houses The Michigan Daily, Gargoyle and Michiganensian.

“I think it’s important to have the proper facilities to nurture the young people who are going to become journalists,” Lipsey said.

Before graduating with a degree in economics, Lipsey worked at both the Michiganensian and the Daily from 1945 to 1948.

He served as photography editor of the yearbook and took photos for the newspaper.

Lipsey’s career has ranged from newspaper photographer, reporter, editor and publisher to his current post of vice president of Warren Buffett’s investment company, Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. In 1973, he won a Pulitzer Prize for a series of articles he wrote while working at Sun Newspapers in Omaha, Neb.

He is also currently the publisher of The Buffalo News.

In addition to Lipsey’s contribution, the University will contribute about $1 million. Additional funds will come from fundraising and the Daily’s profits. A proposal to name the building after Lipsey will most likely be submitted to the University Board of Regents early next year.

The gift will be counted toward The Michigan Difference, the University’s program to raise $2.5 billion by 2008.

Architects have drawn the preliminary plans for the project, but not all of the funds are in place, and the regents have not yet been asked to approve the construction.

The plans call for significant changes inside the building, which was built in 1931.

The renovation will also make possible a change in layout, uniting the once-divided Daily staff and moving the business staff down to the more public first floor.

Handicap access and additional bathrooms as well as new heating, wiring and air conditioning will be added.

The outside of the building will not be significantly changed. Historic features like its stained glass windows and signature arched newsroom ceiling will also be left intact.

Construction is likely to start in May 2006 and will probably run about eight months.

During that time, the publications will find temporary office space.

Before Lipsey said he would make the donation, plans were in place to go ahead with a less significant renovation that would only update things such as wiring.

The renovations were long overdue, said Jason Pesick, Daily editor in chief.

“This might very well be the most decrepit building in use at the University right now,” Pesick said, describing its falling tiles and general dirtiness. “The building is literally crumbling.”

The introduction of computer technology into the publishing equation has made such a renovation necessary, Lipsey said.

“It used to be a reporter made notes and then knocked them out on a typewriter,” he said. “All that’s changed.”

When Alan Lenhoff, Student Publications Board co-chair, returned to the building five years ago after not having seen it since he was Daily editor in chief in 1972, he said nothing had changed.

“I almost expected to go back to my desk and find drafts of editorials and a half-eaten Snickers bar from the ’70s sitting there,” he said.

Lenhoff stressed the importance of private gifts to the renovation, which he called long overdue.

“We were waiting for the generosity of alumni and friends of student publications to come forward,” he said. “And indeed they have.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *