May 22, 2006
Arnold and Constance Pohs Give $1 million for Communication Studies; Athletics receives $250,000
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Constance Friedman Pohs and Arnold C. Pohs of Castle Rock, Colo., and Scottsdale, Ariz., who graduated from the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan in 1949 and 1948 respectively, have made a $1 million gift to the Department of Communications Studies.
The gift will support ground-breaking research and teaching on the content and effects of the mass media, communications and the public interest, and the impact of communications technologies on American life, social networks, media industries, and the government.
A portion of the gift will outfit a state-of-the-art-research laboratory in the department's future home in the new North Quad academic complex. The lab will be dedicated to analyzing media content and the effects of traditional and new media on American society, culture and politics.
"Having been extremely fortunate in being on the cutting edge of wireless telecommunications in the industry's infancy and being able to be a part of its explosive growth over the last 20 years, it was our desire to further the bountiful untapped resources that wireless communications still has to offer. To be able to accomplish this through the University is a true win-win event for us," said Arnold Pohs, an original member of CommNet Cellular Inc., the wireless company serving rural America, and its chairman, president, and CEO until 2000, when AirTouch/Vodafone plc bought the company.
A wireless industry pioneer, Pohs was the first chairman of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) Wireless Foundation and served as chairman of CTIA. He received the 1994/95 President's Award as the outstanding leader in the industry and the 1999 Industry Achievement Award for outstanding leadership from the CTIA Wireless Foundation. He also received the CELLI Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Wireless Industry in 1996. The Public Relations Society of America named him CEO of the Year in 1996. And he was a repeat recipient of CTIA's President's Award.
Mr. Pohs is a member of the executive board of directors of the Barbara Davis Foundation for Childhood Diabetes and a past member of the Children's Hospital Foundation executive board as well as the American Diabetes Association Colorado Chapter board of directors.
"The gift comes at an ideal time for us, just as we have hired four new faculty and expect to hire several more," said Susan Douglas, the Catherine Neafi Kellogg Professor of Communications and department chair. "The department has already pioneered in conducting the first comprehensive study of cell phone use in the United States with the help of a previous gift from the Pohses. The new gift will enable us to continue to pioneer work on mobile communications, violent media and aggressive behavior, race in the media, gender in the media, and the role of the media in shaping political attitudes and behaviors."
In 2000, the Pohses made a $1.5 million gift to establish the Constance F. and Arnold C. Pohs Professorship in Telecommunications for the study of social ramifications, global applications, and comparative policies of wireless telecommunications technologies.
"The department is absolutely thrilled with this new gift," Douglas said. "Connie and Arnold Pohs have been far sighted and wonderful partners to the department, and generous not only with this gift and with previous gifts but also with their ongoing advice and support."
The Pohs have also given $250,000 to U-M athletics for a scholarship and for the baseball clubhouse. The lobby in the clubhouse will be named for them.
"Michigan will always represent a very special place in both of our lives," Pohs said. The couple's daughter, Wendi Pohs Kilgore, and son, Glenn Pohs, also studied at U-M. "We met each other there, and our undergraduate experience subliminally and overtly created the template for our lives. It has become part of us, and now we can offer some token of our appreciation.
"Communications Studies will provide the vehicle," he said. "We have helped provide the fuel, and the students will be both the benefactors and messengers for even greater accomplishments. We are delighted to be a part of it."
This gift has played a significant role in LSA reaching 74 percent of its current fund-raising campaign goal of $300 million, its part of The Michigan Difference, University of Michigan's larger campaign with a goal of $2.5 billion. U-M has raised $2.103 billion as of March 31.
In announcing the gift, LSA Dean Terrence McDonald said: "Constance and Arnold Pohs are terrific friends of the college. We are deeply grateful for their gift."