"Veritas" is the motto of Knox College. A good choice, according to James B. Stewart, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who gave the commencement address at Knox on Saturday, June 5, 1999.
"One of the pillars of this institution and other liberal arts colleges, is that the truth makes us free," Stewart told graduating seniors. "Recognizing the truth freed me to pursue a line of work I truly love," Stewart said, as he told graduates why he left a high-paying law firm to enter journalism.
Winner of several awards for his investigative reporting, Stewart said there's no secret to his craft. He credited curiosity and willingness to listen, and said that everyone should make it a life-long habit: "Curiosity is one of the most magnificent qualities of the human mind but is sadly neglected in may quarters... I tell my students in journalism that when they exercise this curiosity, when they develop an interest in other people, when they ask questions instead of trying impress people with what they think they already know... people respond very positively to this."
Stewart won the Pulitzer Prize for his work as editor of The Wall Street Journal during the October 1987 stock market crash. Stewart also has written several books, including the best-sellers 'Den of Thieves,' about the junk bond scandal, and 'Blood Sport,' about the Whitewater scandal.
Stewart was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Honorary degrees were also awarded to:
Additional honors included the Caterpillar Faculty Achievement Award, presented to Penny Schine Gold, professor of history. Bree Elrod, a junior from Topeka, Kansas, was named College Marshal, an honor given to a distinguished member of the junior class who is selected to lead the procession of graduating seniors. Natalie Bus, an education major from Batavia, Illinois, was selected as the student speaker from the graduating class, a new feature of the Knox ceremony this year.
Also at the ceremony, Knox presented Alumni Achievement Awards to: