In a jointly issued statement, foundation president Leonore Annenberg and foundation vice president Wallis Annenberg stated, "Walter Annenberg founded the schools out of a conviction that scholars and students could harness communication in service of society. Since the creation of the School at Penn in 1958 and at USC in 1971, graduates and faculty have identified ways to use communication to improve children's television programming, protect privacy from technological trespass, improve the quality of political discourse and news, establish standards of quality in online journalism, and minimize teen smoking, suicide, illegal drug use, and risky sexual behavior. This gift will ensure that the important work of the schools will continue into the next century and beyond."
University presidents Judith Rodin and Steven B. Sample hailed the generosity and vision of the Annenberg family and the foundation. "The Annenbergs, through their unparalleled generosity to Penn and other educational institutions, have affirmed again and again the critical role that education plays in people's life opportunities. This extraordinary gift from The Annenberg Foundation ensures that Penn's Annenberg School for Communication will enhance its capacity to create the most productive future generations of communications scholars, researchers and policy makers," said Penn President Judith Rodin. "As our world grows increasingly complex, and information is disseminated with breathtaking speed, the role of communications research and practice becomes ever more important. The significant efforts already underway at Penn's Annenberg School will help us better understand and effectively deal with the critical issues of the day."
Steven B. Sample, president of USC, said, "The Annenberg family is unrivalled in its support of education in America, with a special vision and passion for the study of communications. Their ongoing support of the USC Annenberg School for Communication ensures that our faculty and students are engaged in groundbreaking research and practice in communications and journalism and that we attain the highest standards of professionalism and ethics in those fields. This landmark gift is a strong signal of support for USC and for the city of Los Angeles, which is a world center of the communications industry and the capital city of the Pacific Rim."
At the University of Pennsylvania, the first year's revenue from the new $100 million endowment will be used for student scholarships, faculty chairs, and refurbishing of classrooms. At the University of Southern California, the revenue will be used for new initiatives relating to civic engagement, including new faculty appointments, a program focusing on innovation and excellence in local broadcast news, and new student scholarships.
Walter Annenberg was named Ambassador to the Court of St. James's in 1969 and served in Great Britain until October 30, 1974. He was both editor and publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer and founded TV Guide and Seventeen Magazine. His wife, Leonore, served as U.S. Chief of Protocol, with the rank of Ambassador, from 1981-1982. Annenberg's daughter Wallis, who is a trustee of the University of Southern California, directs the Los Angeles office of the Foundation.