New York University President John Sexton today bestowed an honorary doctorate on renowned White House journalist Helen Thomas at NYU’s 177th Commencement Exercises in Yankee Stadium. Over 25,000 graduates, faculty, staff, and guests attended the morning ceremony.
The following citation was read in conferring the Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa, on Helen Thomas:
“Helen Thomas-Dean of the White House press corps, you have called your beloved profession of journalism “a magnificent obsession.” And it has been so for you for over six decades. Born in Winchester, Kentucky to Lebanese immigrants, raised in Detroit, you graduated from Wayne State University and began your ascent in the fourth estate. From copygirl to cub reporter to UPI White House correspondent and bureau chief, Hearst columnist and author, you hold the patent on the old-fashioned, shoe-leather brand of reporting. Always a colleague held in good standing-if not awe-by the old boys network, you nonetheless led the charge to open the profession and its clubs to women. Covering the administrations of no fewer than 10 presidents of the United States, starting with JFK, you have had, literally, a front row seat for the major events of the last half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st-from the Bay of Pigs to the Civil Rights Movement to the Vietnam War to the collapse of the Soviet Union to the rise of terrorism. Author of a memoir and subject of a documentary, you have earned deep admiration and profound respect from the citizens you serve-and even from the elected officials you have covered.
Helen Thomas-yours has been an extraordinary career in journalism. Ever a reporter at the top of your game, your trademark “Thank you, Mr. President” signaled the end of hundreds of White House press conferences. By virtue of the authority vested in me by New York University, I am pleased to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.”