Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Media Contacts

Elisabeth Andrews
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Friday, May 4, 2007

Tavis Smiley receives highest honor from IU SPEA

May 4, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - While Tavis Smiley is in town delivering Indiana University Bloomington's commencement address, he's also enjoying the highest honor granted by his alma mater, IU's School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Smiley, a renowned radio personality, television contributor and best-selling author, today received the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award from the school.

"Tavis has taken bold, courageous stances, often in the face of opposition, to activate important social changes in our society," said SPEA Dean Astrid Merget. "He plays a commanding and valuable role by encouraging public discourse on critical issues and by informing them with solid facts and diverse opinions. He is a beacon for current SPEA students to emulate, as they learn about leadership in public policy."

Smiley is the host of PBS's "Tavis Smiley" program, NPR's "The Tavis Smiley Show," and a radio show of the same name on Public Radio International. Hosting these shows simultaneously, Smiley has made history as the first American ever to concurrently host signature talk shows on both public television and public radio. He has been recognized by such high-profile publications as Time Magazine, which hailed Smiley as one of the "20 people changing how Americans get their news." Each year, Smiley hosts the annual State of the Black Union and has been a political commentator on several cable networks, including CNN, NBC and ABC. Smiley also is the founder of the Tavis Smiley Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to encourage, empower and enlighten black youth.

Smiley has remained involved with the school and IU throughout his career. He is an honorary member of SPEA's Board of Visitors, has delivered a speech as part of SPEA's annual Neal-Marshall Public Policy Lecture Series, and will address this year's IU Bloomington graduates at commencement tomorrow (May 5).

SPEA's Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award honors alumni whose dedicated efforts have contributed to the achievement of excellence in their professional fields. Nominees must demonstrate distinctive merit and loyalty to SPEA's mission of building stronger communities through smart policies and sound science.