|Philip R. Beuth, image courtesy of Philip R. Beuth|
When he was young, Philip R. Beuth ’54 took a paper route in his native Staten Island to help his widowed mother raise him and his brother. He never thought he could afford Union College until he met Frank Bailey, Class of 1885.
Referred by a family friend, this promising young man met Bailey in his cavernous New York City office, heavily adorned with Union paraphernalia. The trustee and longtime treasurer of the College welcomed Beuth with an unabashed enthusiasm for Union. After a brief meeting, the financier shook Beuth’s hand and promised that he would provide a scholarship to augment what Beuth would earn by working.
It was a gesture Beuth would recall for the rest of this life. Finding success as a television executive, he has followed Bailey’s philanthropic example, aiding organizations ranging from Union College to UNICEF and more recently to the Guadalupe Center in Immokalee, Fla. “As our company began to do well, we wanted to give back,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to be able to do that for some time and I’ve been urging others to do the same.”
While a student at Union, Beuth took a job as a page at WRGB television and WGY radio, gaining experience by observation in everything from camera operation to directing. The experience also connected him with executives who recognized his potential and cultivated his career.
When he graduated from Union as an English major, WRGB underwrote his tuition to what would become the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. Beuth earned a Master of Science degree in television production, producing a documentary on football player Jim Brown, which he sold to a Syracuse TV station.
Beuth continued in television production as a producer and director at a fledgling Albany television station, now WTEN, the original station of the newly formed Capital Cities Communications. He went on to manage company stations in West Virginia, California and Buffalo, making each an audience leader in its market.
Capital Cities steadily grew its holdings by adding television and radio stations, newspapers and cable outlets. In 1985, when Capital Cities purchased the ABC TV network, the Wall Street Journal called the company “the minnow that swallowed the whale.” Beuth joined the ABC Network in 1986 as vice president for early morning programming. After a 40-year career, he retired as president of CapCities/ABC’s top-rated Good Morning America in 1995.
Among the other highlights of his career, Beuth was responsible for the groundbreaking In A New Light, a TV series of five three-hour specials on AIDS that ran between 1992 and 1995. He initiated a prime time ABC series that featured the Beatles. He also served on the boards of UNICEF and DIFFA, the Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS.
In 1997, he and his family established the Beuth Foundation with a mission to provide “support for the medical sciences, educational opportunities, and the elevation of the human spirit.” To date, the Beuth Foundation has provided grants to more than 200 institutions.
For the past seven years, Beuth has been a board member for a non-profit daycare center in the immigrant farming community of Immokalee in Southwest Florida. He and his wife, Mary, have been active in the Guadalupe Center, which operates two dawn-to-dusk schools and has placed more than 80 students in American colleges in recent years.
Beuth is a Trustee Emeritus of Union. In 2004, one of Union’s seven Minerva Houses was named in his honor. Beuth House is the former home of Psi Upsilon, of which Beuth was president his senior year. In 1995, he received the College’s Eliphalet Nott Medal, awarded to alumni who through perseverance have attained distinction in their fields.