From GW’s pep band to ‘Meet the Press’: Chuck Todd looks to strengthen ties to campus

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo

Chuck Todd, who attended GW in the 1990s, is looking to work more closely with the School of Media and Public Affairs, where he has already made financial donations.

Chuck Todd is coming back to campus.

Todd, who left the University in 1994 when his scholarships dried up, may be best known for hosting NBC’s “Meet The Press” since last year — one of the most coveted journalism jobs in the city. Todd said he’s planning to start using that influence to create more politics and journalism programming at the University.

The push started when he was appointed in the fall to the School of Media and Public Affairs’ National Advisory Council, which helps guide the school through major decisions. He’s since hosted a breakfast with a handful of SMPA students in January and a “Tweet the Press” event this month with students from the Graduate School of Political Management, where the students and Todd live-tweeted a “Meet the Press” broadcast.

Todd, who originally came to the University as a music major in 1990, left campus just six credits shy of earning his degree, but said he still feels a strong connection to GW.

“It’s a matter of what we’re going to do,” Todd said, adding that SMPA Director Frank Sesno recently began pushing him to work with administrators and create regular events at SMPA.

GW may count more on Todd, who’s taken over one of the D.C. establishment’s go-to Sunday morning shows. As a major community figure who already brings together big names and prominent politicians for his broadcasts, he could help attract influencers to campus.

He said he hopes to be a part of what drew him to attend GW – the ability to connect with powerful people in politics while still attending college. The Florida native grew up surrounded by politics, participating in campaigns while still in high school and then later in college.

“I don’t mean to be negative about the class work – the class work was great – but the best part of going to GW was the access,” he said. “I wouldn’t have this career if I didn’t go to GW [where you could have] real-life experiences and infinite job opportunities that were local and allowed you to quickly get into the world of journalism.”

And Todd may soon be back in the classroom. He said he plans to finish his degree before his two children attend college.

He said he has already given donations to SMPA, but he wants to expand his donations to the music department, where he originally majored before switching to political science. He also played French horn in the band to secure extra scholarship funds.

Todd joined the National Journal’s Hotline, a daily political tip sheet, as an intern in 1992 during his sophomore year. He worked at the publication until 2007, when he left to join NBC News.

Todd, who was promoted to the “Meet the Press” slot after hosting NBC’s “The Daily Rundown” since 2010, said he is adjusting to the role and a new level of attention.

“I’m never comfortable being the story,” he said. “The job of a journalist is to never be the story. We’re here to tell the story, to interview, to explain.”

Frank Dooley, Jr., the director of development at SMPA, said he was impressed by Todd’s modesty, even though the TV host has his own kind of celebrity.

“The things that impress me most about Chuck Todd – quite aside from his unassailable record as a consummate professional and captivating interviewer – are his modest charm, sparkling wit and unforced intelligence,” he said. “Self-promotion is not part of his game.”

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