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FIRST COMMENCEMENT IN CONSTANT CENTER IS SUNDAY

Two media titans - Washington Post Managing Editor Steve Coll and Landmark Communications founder Frank Batten - will take part in Old Dominion University's 97th commencement at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15. The program for more than 2,000 graduates will be the first held in the new Ted Constant Convocation Center.

Coll will deliver the commencement address and Frank Batten, retired chairman of the board of Landmark Communications, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

Batten, who began his career in the 1950s, inherited two local newspapers, The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star, and built them into Landmark Communications Inc., a privately held media company with national and international interests in newspapers, broadcasting, cable programming and electronic publishing. The company employs more than 5,000 people and also owns fixed wireless companies and a career schools division. In 1998, Batten passed control of Landmark to his son, Frank Batten Jr., and currently serves as chairman of the board's executive committee.

With a long history of support and service to Old Dominion, Batten was a member of the advisory board to the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary, and became the first rector of the Board of Visitors of the independent Old Dominion College in 1962. In 1972, the university's Batten Arts and Letters building was dedicated in his honor. His financial support to Old Dominion earned him the distinction as the university's most significant and enduring contributor, and in 1995 Old Dominion initiated the Batten Award to recognize and encourage others who have demonstrated outstanding charitable support.

Coll, who has served as managing editor of The Post since 1998, has been a reporter, foreign correspondent and editor at the newspaper since 1985. After working as a contributing editor at California Magazine and authoring a book about the lawsuit and politics that led to the breakup of AT&T, he joined The Post initially as a feature writer in the Style section.

Early in 1987, after writing a second book, about the oil industry and the world of hostile corporate takeovers on Wall Street, he returned as The Post's financial correspondent in New York, where he covered the stock market crash, the Ivan Boesky-Michael Milken investigations, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. A series about the SEC that Coll wrote with David A. Vise won the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism.

In 1989, Coll moved to New Delhi, India, to become The Post's South Asia correspondent. For three years he covered India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal during various revolutions, insurgencies and natural disasters, and he also reported occasionally from the Middle East. His dispatches from South Asia won the 1992 Livingston Award for outstanding international reporting.

That year, Coll became The Post's first international projects and investigative correspondent, based in London. For the next three years he traveled from Kazakhstan to Panama to report and write for the newspaper on subjects such as nuclear proliferation, money laundering, terrorism, the international economy, political changes in the post-Cold War world, and news events from Asia to the Balkans to Northern Ireland.

In the summer of 1995, Coll was appointed editor of The Washington Post Magazine. In 1996, he was appointed publisher of The Magazine as well, overseeing all of its editorial and business operations. In 1998, he was appointed managing editor of the newspaper.

Coll received the 2000 Overseas Press Club's Ed Cunningham Memorial Award and the 2001 Robert F. Kennedy International Print Award for reporting on the civil war in Sierra Leone. Earlier this year he was the keynote speaker at the South Asian Journalists Association convention, where he presented the first Daniel Pearl Award for outstanding reporting on South Asia.

He is the author of four books: "The Deal of the Century: The Break Up of AT&T" (1986); "The Taking of Getty Oil: The Full Story of the Most Spectacular - & Catastrophic - Takeover of All Time" (1987); "Eagle on the Street: Based on the Pulitzer Prize-Winning Account of the SEC's Battle With Wall Street" (with David A. Vise, 1990); and "On the Grand Trunk Road: A Journey into South Asia" (1994).

Coll graduated Phi Beta Kappa, cum laude from Occidental College, Los Angeles, with a degree in English and history.

This article was posted on: December 13, 2002

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