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Roger Mudd Receives Philanthropy Award from the Council of Independent Colleges

Roger H. Mudd, a 1950 graduate of Washington and Lee University and an award-winning journalist, received the Award for Individual Philanthropy from the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) at its annual awards banquet Jan. 6 in San Diego, California. Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest ’53, ’55L received the award in 2008.

CIC presents the award to honor “an individual who demonstrates the love of humankind through consequential giving and who provides an example of the philanthropic spirit.”

Richard Ekman, CIC president, said the annual award is “an important way for CIC presidents to celebrate and honor individuals and organizations who have contributed generously to independent higher education — through their professional expertise, philanthropic generosity, or both.”

“CIC is extremely pleased to have the opportunity to recognize the individuals and organizations who stand as role models for philanthropists and college trustees everywhere and who have strengthened independent higher education and provided opportunities and access for students,” Ekman said.

W&L President Ken Ruscio, who represented the University at the presentation, said, “There can be no doubt that one of Roger’s most lasting legacies to higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia has been his interest in ethics and his involvement with the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges. Through both his financial support and his volunteerism, Roger has demonstrated the best of the philanthropic spirit, and in so doing serves as a beacon for others to follow.”

In accepting his award, Mudd said, “I do not regard myself as a philanthropist, but as an amateur historian turned journalist — two fields that are related in that historians need 20 years to get it wrong, but journalists need only eight hours.” He noted, that journalists do have a code of ethics and a set of standards within which they strive to provide accurate information. He added, “Having lived with that code for the 50 years of my professional life, I began to wonder about the millions of students who will go through four years of college without ever being exposed to a code of ethics or an honor system.”

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After graduating from W&L in 1950, Mudd embarked on a successful career in journalism, first as a reporter at The Richmond News Leader and radio station WRNL in Richmond. He went on to become a congressional and national affairs correspondent for CBS, chief Washington and political correspondent and co-anchor of NBC’s “Nightly News” and “Meet the Press,” an essayist and correspondent for PBS’s “MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” and a documentary host for The History Channel. Mudd’s outstanding contributions to journalism have been recognized with two George Foster Peabody Awards, five Emmys and the Joan Shorenstein Barone Award for Distinguished Washington Reporting. His memoir, “The Place to Be: Washington, CBS, and the Glory Days of Television News,” was published in 2008.

Following his 2004 retirement from The History Channel, Mudd dedicated himself to supporting the annual Ethics Bowl competition among the 15-member Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges and has served on the Ethics Bowl task force since its inception in 1998. He has been an integral part of each year’s competition — judging debates, annually writing and editing debate cases and speaking on VFIC campuses.
“The more I got involved with this , the more I began to think about how I could give back as recompense for what my Washington and Lee education had done for me,” said Mudd.

In 2009 the Roger Mudd Ethics Bowl Fund was established to preserve the extension of Ethics Bowl program. The project has since developed into a prestigious statewide intercollegiate competition.

“Roger has given considerable personal resources and time to W&L and to the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges because he cares about young people and the education they need to be thoughtful contributors to and participants in society,” said Ruscio.

Over the years, Mudd has been an active alumnus, serving as a visiting professor and donating his collection of 20th-century collection of Southern literature and his papers to W&L. His recent gift of $4 million established The Roger Mudd Center for Ethics at W&L, which, this year, is addressing race and justice.

Ruscio said, “At Washington and Lee, we believe we have an obligation to teach students how to think about ethical and moral questions and how to recognize an ethical dilemma when they see it. We want our students to develop habits of the mind as well as habits of the heart. The Roger Mudd Center for Ethics will put Washington and Lee in an unusually strong position to be able to both educate our own students and to serve as an example that other institutions will want to follow.”

As well as his support of W&L, Mudd has been active on a number of educational and non-profit boards, including Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, the National Portrait Gallery and the Eudora Welty Foundation. He was the inaugural recipient of both the Sydney Lewis Award from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy (1999) and Marymount University’s Marya McLaughlin Lecturer in Media Communications (2000). In 2011, W&L awarded Mudd its Washington Award in recognition of his distinguished leadership and service to the nation and “extraordinary acts of philanthropy” in support of Washington and Lee and other institutions.