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Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough joins William Jewell
Contact: Rob Eisele816-415-7574
January 25, 2007

Jewell honors distinguished alumni who have made significant contributions in their respective fields at its annual Achievement Day celebration March 8.

Special guest speaker for the Achievement Day dinner is two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian David McCullough. McCullough will offer the Achievement Day address, “Leadership and the History You Don’t Know,” at a 6 p.m. dinner March 8 at Kansas City’s Westin Crown Center Hotel, 1 East Pershing Road.

“Achievement Day celebrates the liberal arts tradition that William Jewell College has embodied for more than 150 years,” said Dr. David Sallee, president of the college. “This 63rd annual celebration of achievement allows us to reflect upon the leadership that Jewell alumni bring to a variety of career paths.”

This year’s Achievement Day speaker has strong ties to William Jewell College. While researching Truman, his 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of President Harry S. Truman, he spent a semester on the Liberty campus as writer-in-residence. In the acknowledgements section of the book, McCullough expresses his appreciation to former Jewell president J. Gordon Kingsley “...for the opportunity to learn about Missouri by living there.” McCullough will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree from William Jewell at the Achievement Day dinner.

Achievement Day honorees for 2007 are Jeannie Blaylock ’82, television news anchor and reporter, WTLV-TV, Jacksonville, Fla.; Harold Brooks ’82, head of the Mesoscale Applications Group of the National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Okla.; Judith Cone ’75, Vice President of Entrepreneurship, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Kansas City, Mo.; and Drew Luten III ’76, Acting Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Europe and Eurasia, U.S. Agency for International Development, Washington, D.C.

Achievement Day honorees will share their perspectives on leadership with students and interested community members at a 10:15 a.m. convocation March 9 in John Gano Memorial Chapel on the college campus in Liberty. The public is invited to attend at no charge.

Honorees will be saluted at a pre-dinner reception beginning at 6 p.m. March 8 at the Westin Crown Center. Holders of patron-level tickets can attend a special private reception with McCullough. John and Nancy Dillingham are serving as chairs for the event.

General tickets for the dinner are $100 per person; patron-level tickets are $150 per person, with various sponsorship opportunities available. Call 816-415-7550 for information and reservations. Proceeds benefit the Jewell Fund at William Jewell College.

David McCullough has been widely acclaimed as a “master of the art of narrative history” and “a matchless writer.” He is a two-time winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. His books have been praised for their scholarship, their understanding of American life, their “vibrant prose,” and their insight into individual character.

McCullough’s most recent book, 1776, the number-one national bestseller in both hardcover and paperback, has been called “brilliant…powerful,” “a classic,” while his previous work, the monumental John Adams, remains one of the most critically acclaimed and widely read American biographies of all time. To date more than two million copies have been sold. McCullough’s other books include The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, The Path between the Seas, Mornings on Horseback, Brave Companions and Truman.

For his work overall, McCullough has been honored with the National Book Foundation’s Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award, the National Humanities Medal and the New York Public Library's Literary Lion Award. He is past president of the Society of American Historians. In a crowded, productive career, he has been an editor, essayist, teacher, lecturer and a familiar presence on public television as host of Smithsonian World, The American Experience and narrator of numerous documentaries including The Civil War. He also provided the narrator’s voice in the movie Seabiscuit. A gifted speaker, McCullough has lectured in all parts of the country and abroad, as well as at the White House. Born in Pittsburgh, McCullough was educated there and at Yale, where he was graduated with honors in English literature.

Details of the 2007 Achievement Day honorees and their accomplishments:

Jeannie Blaylock is a 12-time Emmy Award-winning news anchor and reporter for WTLV-12, a Gannett Broadcasts media outlet in Jacksonville, Florida. She is also the recipient of two Edward R. Murrow Awards and one Peabody Award. She serves as co-anchor of the “First Coast News” broadcasts at 5 and 6 p.m. in the Jacksonville market. She has been widely recognized for the creation of the “Buddy Check 12” program devised to help women overcome breast cancer through early detection. A member of the William Jewell College class of 1982, Blaylock was a triple major in English, communication and art. She graduated summa cum laude and completed part of her undergraduate work at Oxford University in England, where she also studied the British Broadcasting Corporation.

In his work with the National Severe Storms Laboratory, Harold Brooks has developed and applied techniques to estimate the occurrence of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. By developing a better understanding of the environmental conditions in which severe storms occur, Dr. Brooks has assisted forecasters in making more accurate predictions. His work on how to produce, interpret and evaluate weather forecasts has helped change the way that forecasts are prepared and disseminated in a number of countries worldwide. A member of the William Jewell College class of 1982, Dr. Brooks graduated summa cum laude with honors in physics. He received an M.A. and M.Phil. in atmospheric sciences from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Judith Cone leads development of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s overall entrepreneurship strategy and oversees all entrepreneurship programming and operations. She heads the Foundation’s knowledge propagation team and Kauffman Campus Initiatives. Since joining the Foundation in 1993, Cone has been responsible for developing and growing a variety of national entrepreneurship initiatives. She started her career as a learning disabilities teacher, where she observed first-hand the effects of poverty on children’s academic achievement. Cone has a bachelor’s degree from William Jewell College with areas of concentration in education and psychology, and a master’s degree in education from the University of Kansas. She travels and speaks extensively on entrepreneurship and its impact on individuals, the community and the economy.

Since November 2005, Drew W. Luten III has served as the Acting Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Europe and Eurasia (E&E), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In this position, he directs a $700 million annual budget, which supports economic growth and fiscal reform, democracy-building and social transition projects in 23 European and Eurasian countries receiving U.S. foreign assistance. Luten oversees six offices in Washington, D.C., and 14 regional and bilateral offices overseas. He supervises the strategic planning, resource allocation, implementation and evaluation for USAID programs in the E&E region. A native of St. Louis, Luten received his bachelor’s degree in history from William Jewell College and a juris doctor from Harvard Law School in Massachusetts.

William Jewell College formally established Achievement Day in 1944. As part of the 63-year tradition, honorees meet formally and informally with students to discuss their individual roads to achievement.

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