Penny Bender Fuchs, a veteran journalist who became one of the most honored teachers at the University of Maryland, died Friday. She had been fighting breast cancer since 2005.
Fuchs, 50, came to the Philip Merrill College of Journalism as a graduate student in 1999 and rose through the ranks to become interim associate dean of academic affairs last spring.
She earned the respect and affection of both colleagues and students with her trademark efficiency, straight talk and sense of humor. Her ability to both challenge and care for her students led to unprecedented honors on campus. Between 2005 and 2012, seven students chosen as Philip Merrill Presidential Scholars named her their top faculty mentor. No other teacher has won this honor more than three times.
"Professor Fuchs taught me to consume news like a journalist, write like a journalist and act like a journalist," said Josh Fendrick, a 2012-2013 Merrill Scholar.
"Penny Fuchs was beloved by her students and colleagues," said Merrill College Dean Lucy Dalglish. "She had a profound effect on the lives of everyone at the college."
Penny Bender Fuchs
Fuchs had served the college full-time since 2003 as a lecturer, director of assessment, scholarship coordinator, and director of career placement and professional development. She also served for six years as executive director of the American Association of Sunday and Features Editors, based at the college.
Before joining Maryland, Fuchs spent 15 years reporting and editing. For nearly a decade she reported on Congress and the executive branch as a Washington correspondent for Gannett News Service and a reporter and assistant managing editor at States News Service. She covered the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton and the fundraising activities of Vice President Al Gore.
She also worked for the The (Newport News) Daily Press, the Lynchburg News & Advance, The (Harrisonburg) Daily News Record, and The Hopewell News, all in Virginia. She had a bachelor's degree in mass communications from Virginia Commonwealth University and a master's degree in journalism from Maryland.
Fuchs was married to Michael Fuchs, an attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Their daughter, Kathryn, 17, is a freshman at the University of Delaware, and their son, Jonathan, 14, a sophomore at Blake High School in Silver Spring.
A memorial service will be held Friday, Sept. 7, at Grace Episcopal Church, 1607 Grace Church Road, Silver Spring, Md. Her family will greet guests beginning at 10 a.m., with the service starting at 11 a.m.