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Commencement Speaker: Jim Lehrer

Jim Lehrer, the award-winning executive editor and anchor of The News Hour with Jim Lehrer on PBS, will deliver the Commencement address at Penn's 246th Commencement on Monday, May 13. The procession enters Franklin Field at 9:30 a.m., the ceremony begins at 10:15 a.m. and concludes at noon. Approximately 6,000 degrees will be conferred.

Born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1934, Mr. Lehrer received an A.A. degree from Victoria College in Texas and a B.J. in 1956 from the University of Missouri before joining the Marine Corps. From 1959 to 1966, he was a reporter for the Dallas Morning News and then the Dallas Times-Herald. He was also a political columnist at the Times-Herald for several years and in 1968 became that paper's city editor.

Mr. Lehrer's newspaper career led him to public television, first in Dallas as KERA-TV's executive director of public affairs, on-air host and editor of a nightly news program. He subsequently moved to Washington, DC, to serve as the public affairs coordinator for PBS, and was also a member of PBS's Journalism Advisory Board and a fellow at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Mr. Lehrer went on to join the National Public Affairs Center for Television (NPACT) as a correspondent.

It was Mr. Lehrer's work with NPACT that led to his initial association with Robert MacNeil and, ultimately, to their long-term partnership. In 1973, they teamed up to provide NPACT's continuous live coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings, broadcast on PBS. Following that Emmy-winning collaboration, Mr. Lehrer was the solo anchor for PBS coverage of the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment inquiry of Nixon.

In 1975, the half-hour Robert MacNeil Report, with Jim Lehrer as the Washington correspondent, premiered on channel Thirteen/WNET New York. Over the next seven years, The MacNeil/Lehrer Report (as it was renamed in 1976) won more than 30 awards for journalistic excellence. In 1983, Lehrer and MacNeil launched their most ambitious undertaking, The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. The 1995-96 season marked the 20th year of their show, as well as Mr. MacNeil's departure and Mr. Lehrer's stewardship of the program in its new incarnation, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Mr. Lehrer has been honored with numerous awards for journalism, including the 1999 National Humanities Medal, presented by then President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Mr. Lehrer was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame with Mr. MacNeil and into The Silver Circle of the Washington, DC, Chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He has won two Emmys, the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award, the George Foster Peabody Broadcast Award, and the William Allen White Foundation Award for Journalistic Merit and the University of Missouri School of Journalism's Medal of Honor. In 1991, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In the last four presidential elections, Mr. Lehrer has served as a moderator for nine of the nationally televised debates among the candidates. He has hosted the Emmy Award-nominated "Debating Our Destiny: Forty Years of Presidential Debates," in which he interviewed former presidential and vice presidential candidates about their debate experiences.

Mr. Lehrer is also the author of 12 novels, two memoirs and three plays. His latest book, The Special Prisoner, was published in May 2000. A made-for-TV movie of The Last Debate aired in the fall of 2000 on the Showtime Channel. His 13th novel, No Certain Rest, will be published in 2002.

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 18, January 15, 2002


January 15, 2002
Volume 48 Number 18

Jim Lehrer, an award-winning journalist from PBS, will deliver the commencement address at Penn on May 13.
A newly created endowed chair at CHOP is in memory of one endocrinologist and will be held by another endocrinologist, a long-time Penn faculty member.
The Open Forum on the Strategic Plan, originally scheduled for today, will be held on Monday, January 28 in 200 College Hall.
The Senate Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty issues their annual report which has countless comparisons and conclusions.
A memorial service will be held today for a Wharton junior who died over the winter break.
A memorial service will be held on Thursday for a staff couple who both died over break.
The Penn's Way Campaign concludes its weekly drawings and has named a grand prize winner for the iBook.