Pitts to speak at Parkland commencement
URBANA — Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. will deliver the keynote address at Parkland College's commencement ceremonies this Friday.
The ceremony will be at 8 p.m. Friday at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., U.
Pitts is a writer with the Miami Herald whose opinion columns touch on a range of issues, from music to race to family life. He received the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004.
At the ceremony, Carl Meyer, retiring executive director of the Parkland College Foundation, will receive an honorary associate's degree. Mark Pelafos, Worden Martin's chief operating officer, will be honored with the 2013 distinguished alumnus award.
A news and features journalist at the Miami Herald since 1991, Pitts has been called "the most insightful and inspiring columnist of his generation" by TV talk show host Tavis Smiley. His column on Sept. 12, 2001, "We'll go forward from this moment," gained widespread recognition for its description of America's "unimaginably determined" resolve in the face of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
He was named the 2008 Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists and is a three-time recipient of the association's Award of Excellence. He is a seven-time recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Award and a five-time recipient of the Atlantic City Press Club's National Headliners Award. Pitts is the author of several books. His column appears regularly on The News-Gazette's Opinion page.
Pitts earned a degree in English from the University of Southern California, and honorary doctorates from Old Dominion University and Utica College.
Honorary degree recipient Meyer will retire at the end of June from his position as leader of the Parkland Foundation after 16 years. Under his leadership, Parkland has raised $25.5 million for scholarships, programs, equipment and more. He led the "Creating Brighter Futures" campaign which brought in $14 million for the college by 2005.
Distinguished alumnus recipient Pelafos studied business administration at Parkland before joining Worden-Martin as a salesman 30 years ago.
In addition to Pitts, Parkland President Thomas Ramage will deliver remarks at the ceremony as will Parkland Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas Bennett, and graduating students Amanda Jean Beals and Autumn C.K. Winder.