Hugh Downs Attends End of the Semester Celebration

Faculty, staff and students at the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication had the great fortune to engage in conversation with the school's namesake, veteran broadcaster Hugh Downs, at the end of the semester celebration on December 2, 2017.  Still spry at age 97, Downs spent the evening sharing stories about his family, career and interest in science and the arts.   

“The Hugh Downs School is dedicated to studying and understanding the complex processes involved in everyday communication,” said Linda Lederman, Director of the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication.  "Hugh Downs, in his ability to understand and be understood by other people, exemplifies the school's mission.”

Alaina Veluscek, a third year doctoral student in Interpersonal Communication found him warm and approachable.  “I’m studying military families for my dissertation, and enjoyed connecting with him on a personal level. He told us how much he missed his late wife’s company, especially at Thanksgiving, a holiday she loved.  He explained that he didn’t know what he was supposed to do this Thanksgiving because she was the one who always told him what to do!” 

Professor of Practice Pauline Davies, who hosted the celebration, said that when Hugh comes into her classroom and talks to freshman about his experiences, they are in awe that a single individual has achieved so much.  "I am amazed by the generosity that he shows, giving of his time to talk to everyone personally after the class and to pose for photos.” 

Rosalie Fisher, a doctoral candidate and teaching associate had similar sentiments about meeting the icon.  “I've always admired people who have mastered the art of small talk. Hugh not only cheerfully engaged with all of us who sat to chat with him, but offered a genuine glimpse into his life, his quiet intelligence, and sense of humor. His generosity as a communicator shone, as one moment we were reminiscing about how we miss little toddlers playing around on the floor at family gatherings, and the next moment someone is inquiring about the symphony he composed for Yo-Yo Ma. Humility and grace have always been characteristics I aspire to, and Hugh Downs is a classic example of both.”

“It meant a lot to our graduate students to meet the namesake of our school,” said Professor Olga Davis. “Students are able to see up close and personal, a life well-lived with the foundation of knowledge and education at his core.  We live in a world where everything is immediate.  Hugh puts into perspective the trajectory of his pursuit of knowledge and passion, coupled with the breadth and depth of persona. We can better grasp the profundity of this individual in our midst.  Hugh is literally an icon who ingratiated us with his wit, wisdom and authenticity.  He is a living example of the value of life-long learning.”