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Pitts, Matthews to Speak at Commencement May 10

Old Dominion graduates will receive words of wisdom from two nationally known figures, along with their diplomas, at spring commencement exercises Saturday, May 10, at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

Leonard Pitts Jr., nationally syndicated columnist with the Miami Herald, will address graduates from the colleges of Business and Public Administration, Education and Sciences at the 9 a.m. ceremony. Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews," will speak to graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters, Engineering and Technology and Health Sciences at 2 p.m.

Approximately 3,160 May and August graduates will be eligible to take part in the ceremonies.

Matthews' "Hardball" airs Monday through Friday at 5 and 7 p.m. He is also the host of "The Chris Matthews Show," a syndicated weekly news program produced by NBC News, and is a regular commentator on NBC's "Today" show.

Matthews has distinguished himself as a broadcast journalist, newspaper bureau chief, presidential speechwriter and best-selling author. He covered the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first all-races election in South Africa and the Good Friday Peace Talks in Northern Ireland. In 1997 and 1998, his digging in the National Archives produced a series of San Francisco Examiner scoops on the Nixon presidential tapes.

He has covered American presidential election campaigns since 1988, including the five-week recount of 2000.

In March 2004, Matthews received the David Brinkley Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. He has also been awarded the Abraham Lincoln Award from the Union League of Philadelphia and in 2005 he received the Gold Medal Award from the Pennsylvania Society.

Matthews worked for 15 years as a print journalist, 13 of them as Washington bureau chief for The San Francisco Examiner (1987-2000), and two years as a national columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle.

Prior to that, he spent 15 years in politics and government, working in the White House for four years under President Jimmy Carter as a speechwriter and on the President's Reorganization Project, in the U.S. Senate for five years on the staffs of senators Frank Moss (Utah) and Edmund Muskie (Maine), and as the top aide to Speaker of the House Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr. for six years.

Matthews is the author of four best-selling books, including "American: Beyond Our Grandest Notions" (2002), a New York Times best seller. A graduate of Holy Cross College, he did graduate work in economics at the University of North Carolina.

Pitts joined The Miami Herald in 1991 as its pop music critic. Since 1994, he has penned a syndicated column of commentary on pop culture, social issues and family life. His most recent book, "Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood," was released in 1999.

Pitts was awarded the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and was a finalist for the Pulitzer in 1992. He has also been honored by many other organizations for his commentary, including the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He is a five-time recipient of the National Headliners Award. In 2001, he received the American Society of Newspaper Editors prestigious ASNE Award for Commentary Writing and was named Feature of the Year-Columnist by Editor and Publisher magazine. In 2002, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists awarded Pitts its inaugural Columnist of the Year award. Also in 2002, GLAAD Media awarded Pitts the Outstanding Newspaper Columnist award.

Twice each week, millions of newspaper readers around the country seek out his columns. His initial column on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, "We'll Go Forward From This Moment," an angry and defiant open letter to the terrorists, circulated the globe via the Internet. It generated upwards of 30,000 e-mails, and has since been set to music and reprinted in poster form.

This article was posted on: April 24, 2008

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