Westminster Announces Charlayne Hunter-Gault as 2016 Commencement Speaker

Westminster is pleased to announce civil rights activist and award-winning journalist, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, as the 2016 Commencement speaker. The ceremony will be held April 30, 2016, at 9:45 a.m. at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah. 

In 1961, Charlayne Hunter-Gault was the first African-American woman to integrate the University of Georgia. She is an Emmy and Peabody award-winning journalist with aground-breaking career working for media outlets like the New York Times, PBS and NPR.

“Charlayne Hunter-Gault is known for breaking down barriers and facing national turmoil head on. Her insights into creating change will be invaluable inspiration to our graduates,” said Stephen R. Morgan, Westminster’s president. “As the political and social climate of our nation has recently shown, the challenges are many and great. Our students need to be ready for anything. That’s what an education at a liberal arts college provides: no matter the degree, each of our students are prepared to lead just and meaningful lives.”

Hunter-Gault will receive an honorary degree at the April 30th ceremony. Other honorary degree recipients are:

  • Jim Clark: Westminster Board of Trustees and former interim dean of the Bill & Vieve Gore School of Business at Westminster
  • James B. Lee: president the Florence J. Gillmor Foundation and former president of Utah State Bar
  • Bob Graham: board member of the Florence J. Gillmor Foundation, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation and the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation, and former Salt Lake City Rotary president

Charlayne Hunter-Gault

Charlayne Hunter-Gault is an award-winning journalist, author and civil rights activist who was the first African-American woman to integrate the University of Georgia.  She is the author of three books: “In My Place,” “To the Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement” and “New News Out of Africa.”

Hunter-Gault joined NPR in 1997 after 20 years with PBS, where she worked as a national correspondent for “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.” She began her journalism career as a reporter for The New Yorker then worked as a local news anchor for WRC-TV in Washington, DC, and as the Harlem bureau chief for The New York Times.

She joined CNN in April 1999 as the network’s chief correspondent in Africa and was awarded a Peabody in 1998 for her coverage of the continent. In 2005, she returned to NPR as a special correspondent. She has also served as Africa bureau chief for Essencemagazine and is on the board of and a frequent contributor to The Root.

Over the years, Hunter-Gault has received numerous awards and citations including two Emmy Awards and three Peabody Awards, the first for her work on “Apartheid’s People,” a NewsHour series about South African life during apartheid. She has been commended by the National Association of Black Journalists for her CNN series on Zimbabwe, among other works; the Sidney Hillman Foundation; American Women in Radio and Television; Amnesty International for her human rights reporting, especially her PBS series “Rights and Wrongs;” and Good Housekeeping, which named her Broadcast Personality of the Year. In August 2005, she was inducted in the National Association of Black Journalists’ Hall of Fame.