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Journalist Roger Mudd '50 Donates $4 Million to W&L for Study of Ethics

Roger Mudd '50
Roger Mudd '50
W&L Audio:

Roger Mudd on his gift to W&L
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Award-winning journalist Roger Mudd, a 1950 graduate of Washington and Lee University, has given $4 million to his alma mater to establish a new center to study ethics.

The Roger Mudd Center for the Study of Professional Ethics will initiate and lead curricular efforts at the University to enhance and expand the study of ethics, which is a tenet of the University's strategic plan. It will also serve as a national resource for the study of ethics in contemporary life.

Furthermore, an endowed Roger Mudd Professorship in Ethics will support a distinguished senior scholar to direct the new center.

"This gift is remarkable on several levels," said Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio. "Certainly this represents an extraordinarily generous gift, but the nature of the gift is especially appropriate. I have long believed that Washington and Lee ought to be known as an institution that gets it right when it comes to educating students for moral and ethical reasoning.

"It is one thing for W&L to establish a center for the study of ethics. It is another thing to establish the Roger Mudd Center. We are extremely grateful that Roger has honored his alma mater in this way."

"For 60 years I've been waiting for a chance to acknowledge Washington and Lee's gifts to me," said Mudd. "Given the state of ethics in our current culture, this seems a fitting time to endow a center for the study of ethics, and my university is its fitting home."

The Mudd Center will work with faculty to develop courses and to introduce the study of ethics across the curriculum. In addition, it will support faculty in a variety of disciplines who want to investigate and teach ethics in their own fields. It will sponsor symposia and lectures, host visiting scholars and organize workshops and conferences for faculty and professionals beyond the W&L campus.

Income from the Mudd endowment will be supplemented by existing endowments for W&L's Society and the Professions Program, which will come under the umbrella of the Roger Mudd Center.

Mudd is a 1950 graduate of W&L, where he majored in history. He received a master's degree, also in history, from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 1953. He began his journalism career in Richmond, Va., as a reporter for the Richmond News Leader newspaper and for WRNL, a local radio station. He moved to Washington in the late 1950s and worked at WTOP News before joining the Washington bureau of CBS News in 1961.

Between 1961 and 1992, he served as a Washington correspondent for CBS News, NBC News and the "MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour" on PBS. He won the George Foster Peabody award for two CBS programs, "The Selling of the Pentagon" in 1970 and "Teddy," a famous interview with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, in 1979. He has also won the Joan S. Barone Award for Distinguished Washington Reporting, in 1990, and five Emmy Awards.

Mudd published his memoir, The Place to Be: Washington, CBS, and the Glory Days of Television News, in 2008.

Between 1992 and 1996, he was a visiting professor of politics and the press at Princeton University and at Washington and Lee University. He is a member of the advisory committee for W&L's department of journalism and mass communications.

He serves on the board of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC) and helped establish that organization's Ethics Bowl, an annual competition in which teams of students from Virginia's private colleges and universities debate ethical issues.

He is also on the board of the National Portrait Gallery and on the advisory boards of the Eudora Welty Foundation and the Jepson School of Leadership at the University of Richmond.

Earlier this year, Mudd donated his papers to Washington and Lee's Leyburn Library. That gift followed his 2006 donation of his collection of 20th-century Southern fiction.