The death was confirmed by her husband, Michael Fuchs.
Since 2003 Mrs. Fuchs had been a full-time faculty member at Maryland’s journalism school, where she was cited regularly by top students as their favorite faculty mentor. She became interim associate dean of academic affairs last spring.
She was known as a hard-line grader of students’ papers but did so with a wry sense of humor. She was one of the few teachers “who could give me an F and make me laugh . . . at the same time,” one of her former students wrote in a comment on Facebook after Mrs. Fuchs’s death.
Mrs. Fuchs was said to have been a vigorous guardian and enforcer of a long-standing policy that misspelling a proper noun in a student’s paper meant an automatic failing grade, even when the rest of the paper was superior.
Her husband attributed this to an early journalistic experience when an editor of a small-town newspaper where she worked would throw a dictionary at the head of any reporter who misspelled a word.
To salve the egos of students she had flunked for bad spelling, Mrs. Fuchs nevertheless wrote extensive and detailed comments on the remainder of their work.
Penny Ann Bender was born in Dallas and raised in Chesapeake, Va. She was a 1984 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and in 2000 received a master’s degree in journalism at U-Md.
She worked for Virginia newspapers, including the Daily Press in Newport News, before relocating to the Washington area in 1990. She became an assistant managing editor for States News Service and then Washington correspondent for Gannett News Service.
She opted for graduate study at Maryland and a career in teaching journalism in 1999, when increasing demands on her time by Gannett interfered with time she wished to spend with her two young children.
After receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2005, she began singing in the choir at Grace Episcopal Church in Silver Spring and began taking piano lessons. She was a Silver Spring resident.
Besides her husband of 21 years, survivors include two children, Kathryn Fuchs and Jonathan Fuchs, of Silver Spring.