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Lehrer to speak at Shepherd University's commencement

May 08, 2011
  • Jim Lehrer
By The Associated Press

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Jim Lehrer, executive editor and anchor of the PBS NewsHour, will deliver the commencement address at Shepherd University’s 138th graduation ceremony on Saturday. Lehrer also will be awarded an honorary doctorate.

As of Wednesday, 678 students have applied for graduation, according to Valerie Owens, executive director of university communications at Shepherd.

Also to be honored during Shepherd’s commencement will be Tia and Robert A. (Bob) McMillan, who will be presented the President’s Award for their service to Shepherd and the community.

After receiving an associate degree from Victoria College and a bachelor’s degree in 1956 from the University of Missouri, Lehrer joined the Marine Corps. From 1959 to 1966, he was a reporter for The Dallas Morning News and then the Dallas Times-Herald. Lehrer’s newspaper career led him to public television, first in Dallas and then in Washington, D.C., where he served as the public affairs coordinator for PBS.

In October 1975, the half-hour “Robert MacNeil Report,” with Jim Lehrer as the Washington correspondent, premiered. Over the next seven years, “The MacNeil/Lehrer Report” (as it was renamed in 1976) won more than 30 awards for journalistic excellence. In September 1983, Lehrer and MacNeil launched “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.” The 1995-96 season marked the 20th year of their journalistic partnership, as well as MacNeil’s departure and Lehrer’s stewardship of the program as “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.” In 2009, the program title changed to “PBS NewsHour” to reflect the program’s expanded role on PBS, online and on air.

Lehrer has been honored with numerous awards for journalism, including the 1999 National Humanities Medal, presented by President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Lehrer has served as the moderator of 11 nationally televised presidential debates during the last six presidential elections. He is the author of 20 novels, two memoirs and three plays.

Charleston, W.Va., natives Tia and Bob McMillan now make their home in the Eastern Panhandle, where they own and operate Jefferson Distributing Co., a beverage-distribution business in Martinsburg, W.Va.

Bob McMillan is the chairman of Shepherd University’s Create the Future Campaign, a comprehensive campaign that will end June 30 when it exceeds its $20 million fundraising goal under his leadership. McMillan’s long service to the university includes membership on the Board of Advisors (2000) and the Board of Governors (2001-09), where he served as board chairman from 2007-09.

Tia McMillan was a founding member of the Contemporary American Theater Festival, serving on its board of trustees from 1991 to 1997. She is now an honorary CATF board member. She is the treasurer of the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation and an 18-year member of the West Virginia Humanities Council. She was named a Woman of Distinction in 2006 by the regional council of Girl Scouts and was named Berkeley County Citizen of the Year in 2007 by the Martinsburg/Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to their financial support of the Create the Future Campaign, the McMillans have established the McMillan Family Scholarship with the Shepherd University Foundation, which is awarded annually to a theater student. They are members of Shepherd’s Friends of Music and the Shepherd University Foundation’s Scarborough Society, a friends-of-the-library association.

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