Broadcast Journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault Will Speak at UMass Amherst Commencement

AMHERST, Mass. - Emmy and Peabody award-winning broadcast journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault will deliver the main address at the 128th Commencement of the University of Massachusetts, to be held at 10:30 a.m. on Sun. May 24, in Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium. Acting Gov. Argeo Paul Cellucci will attend the ceremonies to deliver the greetings of the commonwealth. Approximately 4,000 undergraduates are candidates for bachelor’s degrees.

Hunter-Gault will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

For nearly 20 years, Hunter-Gault was national correspondent for "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," the hour-long evening news program broadcast nightly on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). She also anchored "Rights and Wrongs: Human Rights Television," a weekly half-hour newsmagazine on PBS which incorporated news investigative reports, interviews, features, and cultural segments to examine human rights issues worldwide. The recipient of numerous awards, including two national news and documentary Emmy awards, Hunter-Gault was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists in 1986, and received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism for her work on the NewsHour’s "Apartheid People" series on contemporary life in South Africa.

A native of South Carolina, Hunter-Gault was one of the first two black students admitted to the all-white University of Georgia in 1961. She received her degree in journalism from that institution in 1963. She held positions with The New Yorker, WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., and The New York Times prior to joining the MacNeil/Lehrer Report in 1978 as its first woman anchor. Her personal memoir, "In My Place," was published in 1992. She currently reports from South Africa, where she now resides.

The University will hold a separate Commencement ceremony for nearly 1,300 master’s and doctoral degree candidates at 10:30 a.m. Sat. May 23 in the Mullins Center.

Also on May 23, approximately 125 students will receive associate of science degrees from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture. The ceremony is at 2 p.m. in Bowker Auditorium. Keynote speaker is Mark J. Tobin, 1976 Stockbridge alumnus and president of Hartney Greymont Inc., a tree and landscape company based in Needham.

Other events taking place on Sat. May 23 include: Phi Beta Kappa Installation, Campus Center Auditorium, 2:30 p.m.; School of Nursing Pinning Ceremony, Fine Arts Center, 3 p.m.; and ROTC Joint Commissioning Ceremony, Bowker Auditorium, 5 p.m.