Feb. 10, 2004

More Information

Contact: Jennifer Kinnard, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, (785) 864-7644.

Former presidential aide to receive 2004 William Allen White Foundation Award

LAWRENCE -- Native Kansan Marlin Fitzwater, former press secretary to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush from 1983 to 1992, will receive the William Allen White Foundation's 2004 national citation Feb. 13 at the University of Kansas. Fitzwater will accept the award and give the annual William Allen White Day public address at 1:30 p.m. in Woodruff Auditorium at the Kansas Union.

As part of William Allen White Day activities, the Burton W. Marvin Kansas News Enterprise Award for reporting in 2003 will be presented at a luncheon preceding the public lecture.

A panel of William Allen White Foundation trustees chose Fitzwater to receive the citation, presented annually since 1950 to journalists who exemplify the ideals of William Allen White (1868-1944), a nationally influential Kansas editor and publisher of the Emporia Gazette. Others who have received the honor are James Reston, 1950; Walter Cronkite, 1969; Arthur O. Sulzberger, 1974; James Kilpatrick, 1979; Helen Thomas, 1986; Charles Kuralt, 1989; Bernard Shaw, 1994; Bill Kurtis, 1998; Bob Woodward, 2000; Molly Ivins, 2001; Cokie Roberts, 2002; and Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., 2003.

KU's William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications is named in White's honor. During his visit, Fitzwater will meet with KU students and faculty, tour journalism school facilities and attend a foundation trustees' dinner Feb. 12.

Fitzwater, 61, who lives in the Washington, D.C., area, spent a decade as the only person to serve as press secretary to two presidents. He was born and grew up on a small farm near Abilene, served in the U.S. Air Force and graduated in 1965 from Kansas State University. He started his career in 1962 as editor of the Lindsborg News-Record; he also worked for the Manhattan Mercury and Topeka Daily Capital. Today he is an author and lecturer whose presidential anecdotes, political analysis and television commentary have received worldwide attention. He and his wife, the former Melinda Andrews of Washington, D.C., have two grown children.

He became known to millions of Americans as the voice of the 26-nation coalition in the Persian Gulf War. Fitzwater stood next to two presidents during Cold War summits, economic downturns and eight military conflicts. He gave more than 850 press briefings in six years.

His book "Call the Briefing" is a memoir of 10 years in the White House. His second book, "Esther's Pillow," is a novel based on the true story of a small town in Kansas. Fitzwater is working on another book of fiction about a waterman on the Chesapeake Bay. He was a consultant/writer for two seasons for the television show "The West Wing."

From 1972 to 1980, he was spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency as the nation started a massive cleanup of its landscape. He started his career in the White House as a spokesman for the tax cuts and investment incentives Reagan proposed.

In the late 1980s he invited his Soviet counterparts to joint press briefings during the arms control summits to demonstrate a shared commitment to peace. The United States watched his participation in the 1987 Reagan-Gorbachev walk in Red Square. At the Malta shipboard summit between Bush and Gorbachev, he fought off seasickness to announce the United States' first direct aid to the Soviet Union. His White House press operation became a model for many of the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe and Latin America.

Among other awards, he was named an Outstanding Civil Servant in government in 1980; received the nation's second highest civilian award, the Presidential Citizens Medal, from Bush in 1992; and served on the board of the Woodrow Wilson School for International Scholars. The Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communications was dedicated in May 2002 at Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, N.H. He serves on the advisory board of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation, the Franklin Pierce College Board of Trustees and the board of FlashPoint Technology Inc.

For more information, including availability for interviews and photos, contact Jennifer Kinnard, communications coordinator for the KU William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, at (785) 864-7644 or jkinnard@ku.edu. For more information about the William Allen White Foundation and its activities, go to http://www.ku.edu/~jschool/waw/memorials/foundation.


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