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October 9, 2008


Eight Alumni to Receive Townsend Harris Medals for Outstanding Postgraduate Achievement

NEW YORK, October 9, 2008 – The Alumni Association of The City College of New York will present its 61st John H. Finley Award to Emmy Award-winning television journalist Barbara Walters. The presentation will be made at the Association’s 128th Annual Dinner, Thursday, October 30, at The New York Hilton.  

The award, named for CCNY’s third President, is presented annually to New Yorkers who have given exemplary service to their city.  In a career approaching 40 years, Ms. Walters has arguably interviewed more statesmen and stars than any other journalist in history.

Previous Finley honorees include: former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt; civil rights leader Roy Wilkins; playwrights Neil Simon and Terrence McNally; realtor and philanthropist Jack Rudin; actor Tony Randall; actor/activist Harry Belafonte; opera diva Beverly Sills, and artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Actress Ruby Dee was last year’s recipient.

In addition, the CCNY Alumni Association will confer Townsend Harris Medals on eight distinguished alumni for outstanding post-graduate achievements:

  • George Baron, ’48E, legendary lacrosse All-American and CCNY coach who will be honored posthumously for perpetuating the lacrosse tradition at his alma mater and in New York public schools.

  • Barry J. Brett, ’61, acclaimed lawyer and former Alumni Association president who has played a leading role in major antitrust cases.

  • Betsy Frank, ’66, an analyst and predictor of evolving consumer media behavior whose brilliant research has been the basis of key decisions by top corporations.

  • Dr. Seymour Katz, ’60, an internationally renowned and widely published gastroenterologist who is also a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.

  • Gil Noble, producer and host of WABC-TV’s long running weekly public affairs program “Like It Is” and one of America’s pioneering African-American voices in the mainstream media.
  • Irving Rosenthal, ’33, ’34MSE, CCNY’s iconic “One-man School of Journalism” who will be honored posthumously. He was the mentor to a host of distinguished alumni in the communications fields.

  • Dr. Arthur B. Weglein, ’64, ’69MA, a world renowned seismic petroleum expert and the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Houston.

  • Dr. Arthur Zitrin, ’38, a well-known figure in the medical and psychiatric communities and in the field of medical ethics who recently established CCNY’s Arthur Zitrin Professorship in Bioethics.

Barbara Nevins Taylor, ’70, My 9/WWOR-TV’s highly decorated investigative reporter and journalist, whose accolades include 17 Emmy Awards, will present the Harris medals. The medals were established in 1933 and are named for CCNY’s founder. Ms. Taylor was a Harris medalist in 2001.

The program also includes the presentation of over 70 scholarships and cash awards to deserving students. In addition, CCNY President Dr. Gregory H. Williams will talk on The City College’s successes this academic year.   

Tickets for the dinner, which cost $175 per person, are available through the Alumni Association office at (212) 234-3000. The New York Hilton is located at 1335 Sixth Avenue, at 53rd Street, Manhattan. A brief bio of 2008 John H. Finley Award recipient Barbara Walters follows:

Barbara Walters

For decades, Ms. Walters has brought newsmakers and influential figures from all walks of life into many American homes through her hit television shows. She began as a writer on NBC’s “Today Show” in 1961. In 1963, Ms. Walters became the program’s first female co-host. Among her many highlights at NBC was covering President Richard Nixon’s epoch visit to the People’s Republic of China in 1972.

Ms. Walters joined ABC News in 1976 as the first woman to co-host the network news. She made journalism history by arranging the first joint interview with Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin in November, 1977. Over the years she has interviewed numerous world leaders and every American President and First Lady since Richard Nixon.

Ms. Walters has brought a Midas touch to programming, turning every show that she’s been involved with into must-watch television. “The Barbara Walters Specials” are continuously the top-rated specials of the year and have, in their long-running history, included such legends as Bing Crosby, John Wayne, and Audrey Hepburn. Ms. Walters is also co-owner, co-executive producer and co-host of “The View,” winner of the 2003 Daytime Emmy award for “Outstanding Talk Show.”

In September 2004, after 25 years as co-host and chief correspondent of ABC News’ “20/20,” Ms. Walters left the show to begin a new phase in her career at the network. Ms. Walters’ work and accomplishments have earned her countless honors. She’s been inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Hall of Fame, “for being acknowledged worldwide as one of television’s most respected interviewers and journalists,” and into the Museum of Television and Radio in Los Angeles.

Ms. Walters has also received the President’s Award, the Overseas Press Club’s highest award; as well as several Lifetime Achievement Awards from media organizations.

A Boston native, she graduated from Sarah Lawrence College.

About The City College of New York

For more than 160 years, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. Over 15,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; The School of Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture (SAUDLA); The School of Education; The Grove School of Engineering, and The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. For additional information, visit www.ccny.cuny.edu.