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Woodruff to speak at Commencement

Liz Harter | Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Saint Mary’s class of 2009 will hear their Commencement address from broadcast journalist and senior correspondent for “The Jim Lehrer NewsHour” Judy Woodruff.

Woodruff, a graduate of Duke University, has been a friend of Saint Mary’s since 2005 when she moderated a conference sponsored by the College’s Center for Spirituality titled “Vatican II Forty Years Later: Legacy, Leadership and Unfinished Business,” according to a press release.

For more than 30 years, Woodruff has covered politics and other news for CNN, NBC and PBS. She was a senior correspondent for CNN as an anchor for “Inside Politics.”

Woodruff was the chief Washington correspondent for “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour” from 1983 to 1993, and from 1984 to 1990, she anchored the PBS series, “Frontline with Judy Woodruff,” according to the release.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Woodruff served as a White House correspondent for NBC and was the chief Washington correspondent for the “Today Show” for one year.

When Woodruff spoke at the College in 2005, Sr. Kathleen Dolphin, director of the Center for Spirituality, told The Observer she worked hard to bring her as the moderator for the Vatican II event because she wanted a “high-profile female proctor highly knowledgeable in the Catholic region.”

Woodruff will also receive an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from the College.

Like many students, senior Sarah Voss was excited to learn of the speaker for Commencement.

“[Woodruff] has a really good life story and career,” Voss said. “I think she’ll be interesting and relate well to our demographic.”

The College announced Deborah Johnson Schwiebert, a 1974 graduate and former chair of the Board of Trustees, will also receive an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.

Schwiebert, who graduated with a degree in English Literature, has served on the Board of Trustees since 1998, including a term as chair from 2004-2007. She has also served on two presidential search committees, the Madeleva Steering Society committee and has served as both the vice president and president of the Alumnae Association Board of Directors, according to the release.

Schwiebert currently serves as the director of communication services at John Deere’s World Headquarters facility.

“It has been my pleasure to serve the College these past 16 years,” Schwiebert said in the press release. “My Saint Mary’s education transformed my life and being able to give back to the College has been a real privilege. I am humbled by this wonderful honor and tribute.”