Franklin Pierce Selects NBC's Luke Russert and President George J. Hagerty for Fitzwater Honors

April 30, 2009

RINDGE, NH - NBC news correspondent-at-large, Luke Russert, and retiring Franklin Pierce University president, George J. Hagerty, will be honored with the 2009 Marlin Fitzwater Award for Leadership in Public Communication on Monday, May 4, in ceremonies on the Rindge campus.

The event, which is open to the public, will be held at 5 p.m. in Pierce Hall followed by a public reception. WMUR-TV9 news anchor, Tom Griffith, is this year's Master of Ceremonies.

Russert and Hagerty will receive the award in the 6th annual presentation to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to public discourse in the spirit of a healthy democracy. The award reflects the mission of the Fitzwater Center for Communication at Franklin Pierce: to educate leaders of conscience in public communication.

Fitzwater Center Honorees 2009
2009 Fitzwater Award Honorees  (left to right) are Luke Russert, President George J. Hagerty, Steven Dodrill '09, Derek Gorman '09, and Linda Lawson of Concord High School

The award is named for Marlin Fitzwater, former press secretary to presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Fitzwater is a Franklin Pierce trustee and serves on the Fitzwater Center advisory board. He will make the formal presentation to Russert and Hagerty.

In addition to the presentation of the Fitzwater Award for Leadership, Fitzwater Medallions will be awarded to:

• Franklin Pierce graduating senior Steven Dodrill of Hanson, Mass.
• Franklin Pierce graduating senior Derek Gorman of Brockton, Mass.
• High School journalism teacher Linda Lawson of Concord High School in Concord, N.H.

Fitzwater Leadership Award honoree, Luke Russert, joined NBC News in August 2008 as a correspondent-at-large based in Washington, D.C. His reports focusing on youth issues appear on "NBC Nightly News," "Today," MSNBC and msnbc.com.

Since March 2006, Russert has co-hosted the critically acclaimed sports radio talk show "60/20 Sports" with political pundit James Carville on XM Satellite Radio. On "60/20 Sports," he has interviewed the likes of former President Clinton, former President George Bush, Bill Russell, Cal Ripken Jr. and Lance Armstrong.

Russert graduated from Boston College in May 2008 with a double major in history and communications. He is the son of the late Tim Russert and Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth. Russert lives in Washington, D.C.

President Hagerty and Marlin Fitzwater
President Hagerty and Marlin Fitzwater at a previous year's Fitzwater Ceremonies.

Fitzwater Leadership Award honoree, Dr. George J. Hagerty, has served as president of Franklin Pierce since his appointment by the Board of Trustees in May of 1995. During his tenure, Franklin Pierce was the 1997 recipient of the Templeton Award for Character-building Colleges, the College achieved university status in 2007 and has experienced historic enrollment growth with a simultaneous strengthening of the student profile.

Hagerty has effectively shepherded the institution's entry into specialized graduate study at the doctoral and master's levels; transformed the University's 1,200-acre main campus and five centers for Graduate and Professional Studies; successfully led the University's expansion into the international market; signed the American College and University President's Climate Commitment; and sponsored the creation of three faculty-driven academic institutes including The Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication which has contributed to the University's growing regional and national reputation.

Hagerty received his bachelor's degree in International Affairs from Stonehill College and his master's and doctoral degrees in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Other recipients of the Fitzwater Award for Leadership in Public Communication include: Dana Perino, former Assistant to the President and Press Secretary at the White House, 2008; Steve Scully, C-SPAN senior executive producer and political editor, 2007; Kenneth Walsh, White House correspondent for U.S. News & World Report; 2006; Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), 2005; and Victoria Clark, Deputy Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, 2004.

Steven DodrillSteven Dodrill, a senior Fitzwater scholar who has been involved in student media since his first day on campus, will graduate with a degree in mass communications from Franklin Pierce in May. Highlights of his time at Franklin Pierce include interviews with guests like Ann Compton of ABC News, Terry Hunt from the Associated Press and New Hampshire Governor John Lynch; as well as the opportunity to ride next to John McCain on the Straight Talk Express during his junior year. Dodrill has been a sports broadcaster all four years, live on the Web and on WFPC-LP. He was one of four students who covered the first in the nation presidential primary at St Anselm College, led teams of students covering house parties, rallies and town hall meetings all over the granite state, as well as the team of students who worked for HDNet's Dan Rather Reports on Election Day 2008. He then drove content to a University-branded YouTube channel, Fitz-Connect.

Dodrill has also anchored weekly newscasts for FPTV25, served as a two year Pierce Media Group fellow introducing new media to the center and served on the Franklin Pierce Fire Company. During his senior year, Dodrill joined SIFE- students in Free Enterprise as a co-media specialist. He is a co-founder of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway Green Team whose SIFE project was named one of the 20 best projects in the country in the regional March competition, and will be judged in mid-May on the national level. He has also recently won an Edward R. Murrow award for spot news coverage and has won three other professional broadcasting awards for breaking news. Dodrill has been interning in the newsroom at WMUR TV News 9 in Manchester, N.H. and will pursue a career in news reporting after graduation.

Derek GormanDerek Gorman will graduate from Franklin Pierce in May with a degree in mass communications after four years of varied media experience. As a freshman, he worked at the radio station and co-hosted a radio show. He served as programming director and station manager for FPCTV, hosted "The Boot" television show, and reported, edited and directed for "Newscast". He was on the scene as producer setting up a live breaking news program when FPC announced University status in 2007. Highlights of his work include coverage and video editing of the congressional midterm election and Fitzwater's production of the presidential primaries, and coverage of the 2008 presidential election as well as reporting from various political campaign events during the election cycle. In his senior year, Gorman served as news director for politicsfitzu in Denver, Colo., blogged for WMUR during the convention and through election night, and produced Fitzwater video for the honors ceremony.

Linda LawsonLinda Lawson has been teaching Media Literacy, Journalism and Advanced Writing at Concord High School in Concord, N.H. since 2004. Prior to that she taught at William Howard Taft High School and Bronx High School for Business in New York City, had a successful but unexciting stint in corporate communications for a firm near Boston, and for 15 years was a reporter in central Maine covering everything from school board meetings to murder trials.
In addition to teaching Lawson writes creative nonfiction. She has had essays published by Missouri Review and Fourth Genre; one of those pieces, "Following Nancy Home," was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2001. She is currently finishing a memoir about her experiences as a journalist.

Lawson has earned a Masters of Arts in Secondary English Education from City College of New York, a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College in Montpelier and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Writing from the University of Maine at Farmington. She is a proud alumna of Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, where her first journalism-related experience was delivering copies of the weekly Hampton Union every Wednesday afternoon. Linda now lives in Concord with her husband, Bob Weiner, and is the proud parent of two grown sons.