Cavalier Daily and Class of 1979 alumna Katie Couric was interviewed by University President Jim Ryan in front of a standing-room only crowd at Alumni Hall Friday evening. The pair discussed Couric’s time at the University, her memoir “Going There” and career, among other topics. Couric also announced a $1 million donation to the University, which will go towards the creation of the Blue Ridge Scholarship for disadvantaged students.
Couric was the co-anchor of the NBC TODAY Show from 1991 to 2006 and later became the first woman to solo anchor a network evening newscast as anchor and managing editor of CBS evening news from 2006 to 2011. Couric’s New York Times bestselling memoir “Going There” was published last year.
“The University of Virginia is such a special place for me,” Couric said. “I wanted to give back and I have been grossly overpaid for years — it’s so much more fun to be able to give back when you're alive instead of after you die, and I'm really excited to help support some students here.”
Couric’s donation was matched by the University, meaning the scholarship will begin with a $2 million fund.
Couric began her time at the University just five years after it became fully coeducational. While a student, Couric majored in American Studies and wrote for The Cavalier Daily. She also served as a resident advisor for three years, lived on the Lawn as Senior Resident and was a member of Tri-Delta Sorority.
“It was just a very exciting time to be in a newsroom with all these smart people,” Couric said of her time on The Cavalier Daily.
Ryan also asked Couric how she has been faring since her recent cancer diagnosis, which Couric announced in September.
Cancer has affected Couric’s life enormously, with both her late husband Jay Monahan and her late sister Emily Couric passing away from colon and pancreatic cancer, respectively. Both of these experiences inspired much of Couric’s philanthropic involvement with cancer research.
In response to a question from Ryan about what being a patient has shown her, Couric stressed the importance of access to quality healthcare for those impacted by cancer.
“The quality of care really matters — compassionate care [and] compassionate doctors and nurses, make a world of difference,” Couric said. “I've learned we have a caste system in this country in terms of medical care — there's so many people who cannot afford really good medical care, and that's one of the reasons I wanted to talk about what had happened to me openly because I wanted to make sure that women didn't put off their mammograms.”
Another subject the pair discussed was teh importance of journalism in preserving American democracy, particularly after the role former president Donald Trump played in fostering hatred for the press throughout his candidacy and eventual presidency. Couric cited Trump’s response to the recent attack on Paul Pelosi as an example of this behavior.
Couric emphasized the importance of encouraging young people to pursue journalism professionally and ensuring that truly accurate information reaches the public, noting that the landscape of journalism has changed drastically from when she began her career.
“Journalism is such an important profession — it's so critically important, particularly what we're seeing happening in our country, where it's post-truth,” Couric said.