Fairfield University's commencement to hear NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw


The class of 1997 comprised of about 1,000 graduates will hear NBC News Anchor Tom Brokaw deliver the main address at Fairfield University's 47th annual commencement on Sunday, May 18, it was announced by the Rev. Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., University President. Fr. Kelley added that Brokaw, the managing editor for NBC Nightly News, will receive an honorary doctorate.

In addition, an honorary doctorate will be awarded to Larry Doby, who 50 years ago became the first African American baseball player in the American League, joining the Cleveland Indians just 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Also receiving honorary degrees will be George Harvey, former chairman of the board of directors of Pitney Bowes, and Elizabeth Pfriem, retired president and treasurer of The Bridgeport Post, The Telegram and The Sunday Post, now The Connecticut Post, whose philanthropic achievements have focused on the welfare and education of children throughout the area.

Statistics compiled by the Office of the University Registrar show that at this time, 1,002 are eligible to receive diplomas as a result of completing their course work in August 1996, January 1997 or May 1997. In the College of Arts and Sciences, 365 will receive bachelor of arts degrees and 132 bachelor of science. The School of Business will award 204 B.S., 26 master of business administration, and 8 master of science in financial management; School of Nursing, 77 B.S. and 1 M.S.

Also, Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions, 113 M.A. and 18 certificates of advanced study; BEI School of Engineering, 28 B.S. and 7 associates in engineering; Continuing Education, 20 associate of arts, 2 bachelor of arts in general education and 1 B.S.

In honoring Brokaw, the University is citing a journalist who won numerous awards for his enterprise including Emmys for the NBC special "China in Crisis" and NBC News' coverage of the Midwest floods of 1972. He is known for covering convulsive changes in world capitals and for monitoring events in small towns and inner cities of the United States, both from his anchor desk and on location as news breaks.

Brokaw is also host of "Internight," a half-hour prime-time talk and interview program on MSNBC Cable; was the NBC White House correspondent during the Watergate era; and covered every presidential election since 1968. As a newsman, he has achieved a number of "firsts," including the first U.S. exclusive one-to-one interview with Mikhail Gorbachev and was the first American to report on human rights abuses in Tibet. He has reported from rooftops in Beirut, from the Great Wall in China, from the Berlin Wall as it fell, and from the streets of Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm.

He joined NBC News in 1966 after reporting and anchoring at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, WSB-TV, Atlanta and KMTV, Omaha.

The honors for Larry Doby at Fairfield University come as Major League Baseball marks the 50th anniversary of the breaking of the color barrier. Doby, a feared hitter and star centerfielder, will also be honored at this year's All-Star Baseball Game. Like Jackie Robinson, he suffered abuse and loneliness as he was not allowed to eat in the same restaurants as the white players or stay in the same hotels. He was bombarded with racial insults by fans and opposing players and even snubbed by some teammates. A teammate would not even let him borrow a glove he needed in order to play first base.

At the age of 22, Doby was leading the Negro National League in batting with a .415 average and in home runs while playing second base for the Newark Eagles when he was brought to the Major Leagues and converted into an outfielder. He became the first black baseball player to hit a homer in a World Series game, played on six consecutive All-Star teams and over a 13-year career at one time or another led the American League in home runs, runs batted in, runs scored, and slugging percentage and was a key player as the Indians won two pennants and a World Series.

He retired as a player in 1959, became the manager of the Chicago White Sox in 1979 - the second black manager in history - and today at 72, he works for the Major Leagues Properties Division, involved in licensing promotions for former players.

George B. Harvey joined Pitney Bowes Inc. in 1957 and rose to be elected chairman, president, and chief executive officer. He served Pitney Bowes in a number of capacities including accountant, treasurer, controller, vice president-finance and in 1978 he was elected group vice president for business equipment with responsibility for the company's United States mailing and copying systems operations. He was elected to the board of directors in 1980 and elected president and chief operating office in May 1981.

Outside of the company, he has been active in a number of corporations, business and industry organizations as well as community and human interest groups. He is a director of Merrill Lynch, McGraw Hill Inc., Mass Mutual Life Insurance Company, Pfizer, United Way of America, United Way of Tri-State, and Catalyst. Harvey has received many honors including Stamford Citizen of the Year as selected by the Robbins Post Jewish War Veterans, National Human Relations Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews; the Urban League of Southwestern Connecticut Partnership; the Terrence Cardinal Cooke Medal for Distinguished Service in health care; and the Regional Plan Association Award for Tri-State Planning Leadership.

He was born in New Haven, is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and a resident of New Canaan, Conn.

Elizabeth M. Pfriem distinguished herself as publisher of the one-time largest independently-owned newspaper in Connecticut as she brought innovations to The Post including a state-of-the-art computer system and a conversion of presses. Since her retirement, her philanthropic activities have been extensive and varied. She was co-founder of the Regional Youth Substance Abuse Project, founder of the Post-Telegram Sunshine Campus Fund, now the Elizabeth M. Pfriem Fund within the Greater Bridgeport Area foundation and has been a major supporter of colleges, with particular assistance to Fairfield University for scholarships for multicultural students. She donated the John E. Pfriem, a 65-foot sailboat named for her late husband to the Bridgeport Regional Vocational Aquaculture School in Black Rock and provided the seed money to establish what is now the L'Ambiance Plaza Scholarship Fund.

She was the first woman ringmaster of the Barnum Festival, sponsored its children's Wing Ding Parade and Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren contest and has provided funds to the Bridgeport Hospital Foundation to renovate the hospital's pediatric unit in a circus theme. She also funded a P.T. Barnum theme renovation for an indoor playground at the Children's Special Needs Center of St. Vincent's Medical Center.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 1, 1997