April 29, 2004 • Volume 12 Number 16

Tim Russert

Tim Russert to Speak at Commencement

'Meet the Press' host one of five who will receive honorary degrees

Tim Russert, NBC News Washington bureau chief, political analyst and moderator of "Meet the Press," will address the Boston College Class of 2004 at the 128th Commencement Exercises on May 24 at Alumni Stadium.

Russert, who moderated the University's Church in the 21st Century "Toward Renewal" discussion last September, will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the ceremonies, which begin at 10 a.m. and will be held in Conte Forum in the case of rain. Approximately 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students are expected to receive degrees at Commencement this year.

Boston College also will award honorary degrees to: Thomas Busch '69, general manager of KNOM-AM/FM in Nome, Alaska; Rev. Raymond Hammond, pastor of Bethel AME Church of Jamaica Plain, co-founder and director of the 10 Point Coalition, a group of clergy and laypeople dedicated to helping black and Latino youth in Boston; Sister Katarina Schuth, OSF, a charter member of the Catholic Common Ground Initiative and a leading expert on seminary reform and theological education; and Blenda Wilson PhD '79, president and CEO of the non-profit Nellie Mae Foundation.

Since Russert took over the helm of "Meet the Press" in December 1991, it has become the most-watched Sunday morning interview program in America and is one of the most quoted news programs in the world. Russert has interviewed the American political scene's most eminent figures on "Meet the Press," the longest-running program (55 years) in the history of television.

In 2001, Washingtonian Magazine named Russert the best and most influential journalist in Washington, DC, describing "Meet the Press" as "the most interesting and important hour on television." His interviews with George W. Bush and Al Gore during the 2000 election year won the Radio and Television Correspondents' highest honor, the Joan S. Barone Award, and the Annenberg Center's Walter Cronkite Award and his March 2000 interview with Senator John McCain shared the 2001 Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence in Television Journalism.

Russert also is the recipient of the John Peter Zenger Award, the American Legion Journalism Award, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Journalism Award, the Allen H. Neuharth Award for Excellence in Journalism and the David Brinkley Award for Excellence in Communication. He has been awarded 29 honorary doctorate degrees from American colleges and universities and has lectured at the Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Reagan Presidential Libraries.

Thomas Anthony Busch

Joining NBC News in 1984, Russert supervised the live April 1985 broadcasts of "The Today Show" from Rome, negotiating and arranging an appearance by Pope John Paul II, a first for American television. In 1986 and 1987 Russert led weeklong broadcasts from South America, Australia and China. He also moderated numerous gubernatorial, US Senate and presidential primary candidate debates.

A graduate of John Carroll University and the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Russert served as a special counsel in the United States Senate from 1977 to 1982 and as counselor in the New York Governor's office in Albany in 1983 and 1984.

Thomas Anthony Busch '69 is general manager of KNOM-AM/FM, a radio station in Nome, Alaska, that is owned by the Catholic diocese of Fairbanks and that beams its spiritual and educational signal into dozens of remote Eskimo and Athabascan Indian villages, as well as to several thousand miles of Russian coastline.

Busch's voice has stretched worldwide, and for many years has been a primary national source of news originating from western Alaska via first the Mutual Network, and since 1980, AP Radio. Since 1976, he has written a daily diary of the Iditarod Race that has been published in Team and Trail magazine, the world's most widely circulated sled dog publication.

After graduating from BC, where he was chief engineer of the campus radio station, he traveled as a Jesuit Volunteer to Nome, where he designed and supervised the construction of KNOM-AM, and volunteered for the new station for three years. He became general manager of the station in 1975.

Busch is a member of the Alaska Broadcasters Hall of Fame. During his tenure, KNOM has twice won both the National Association of Broadcasters' Marconi and Crystal Awards, and has won an unprecedented eleven Gabriel Awards as Radio Station of the Year from the Catholic broadcasters association Unda-USA.

Busch will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Rev. Raymond A. Hammond, MD

Rev. Raymond A. Hammond, MD, who left a career as a physician to help save young lives as an inner-city minister, is pastor of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Jamaica Plain.

Widely recognized as a leading figure in the fight against youth violence and drug abuse. Rev. Hammond is co-founder and chairman of the 10 Point Coalition, the nationally recognized ecumenical group of Christian clergy and lay leaders working to mobilize the Boston community around issues affecting black youth, especially violence.

A Philadelphia native, Rev. Hammond graduated from Harvard University at the age of 19 and went on to receive a medical degree from Harvard Medical School. He spent 15 years as an emergency room physician at Cape Cod Hospital.

Ordained a minister in 1976, Rev. Hammond received a master's degree in religious studies from Harvard in 1982, and left medicine after founding Bethel AME Church in 1988. His wife, the Rev. Gloria White-Hammond, MD, is a pediatrician as well as his co-pastor.

Rev. Hammond has a long history of involvement with youth and community activities. He is executive director of Bethel's Generation Excel program and vice president for membership for the Boy Scouts Minuteman Council. He also is a member of the Executive Committee of the Black Ministerial Alliance and serves as a trustee of Catholic Charities of Boston, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, the Boston Foundation, the Yawkey Foundation and other religious, community, academic and policy organizations.

Rev. Hammond will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Sister Katarina Schuth, OSF, holds the Endowed Chair for the Social Scientific Study of Religion at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. Her primary research interests are Catholic theological education and the relationship between the Church and American culture.

She is the author of two books: Seminaries, Theologates, and the Future of Church Ministry: An Analysis of Trends and Transitions, which won the Catholic Press Association Book Award in 2000, and Reason for the Hope: The Futures of Roman Catholic Theologates. She is a charter member of the Catholic Common Ground Initiative, and a former director of planning at Weston School of Theology in Cambridge.

Sister Schuth has been a member of the Sisters of St. Francis, Rochester, Minn., since 1960. She earned her B.A. from the College of St. Teresa, her M.T.S. and S.T.L. from Weston Jesuit School of Theology, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in cultural geography from Syracuse University.

She will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Blenda J. Wilson, PhD '79, is the first president and chief executive officer of the Nellie Mae Foundation, an organization established in 1998 to promote the accessibility, quality and effectiveness of education, especially for under-served populations in the New England area.

Blenda J. Wilson

Since becoming Nellie Mae's CEO in 1999, Wilson has helped sharpen the foundation's thrust as a major developer of grants, a research organization and educational policy maker. Nellie Mae is the largest foundation in New England focused solely on education.

"As a former teacher, I have seen how beautifully the spark of learning lights up a young person's dreams," Wilson states in her introduction to the Nellie Mae organization. "The foundation's work begins with that spark, which I believe holds the promise of a brighter future for us all."

Prior to becoming the leader of the Nellie Mae Foundation, Wilson was president of California State University, Northridge. She successfully led that institution's recovery from a 1994 earthquake that caused more than $400 million in damages to the campus.

Wilson has also served as chancellor of the University of Michigan, Dearborn; executive director of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education; and senior associate dean at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

She is a past chair of the American Association of Higher Education and is a nationally known speaker on higher education policy issues.

Wilson is a graduate of Cedar Crest College and holds a master's degree in education from Seton Hall University. She earned her doctorate in higher education administration at Boston College.

The University will present Wilson with an honorary Doctor of Public Administration degree.-Office of Public Affairs

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