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Acclaimed Journalist John Wilford Receives UT Alumni Award


John Noble Wilford

John Noble Wilford, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and noted science writer for The New York Times, has received the 2008 Donald G. Hileman Distinguished Alumni Award. It is the highest honor an alumnus can receive from the College of Communication and Information.

“John Noble Wilford is a living legend who has had a remarkable journalistic career. We are very excited to present this award to him for his remarkable contributions to science journalism and in recognition of everything he has done through his work to inform the public about the scientific world,” said the college’s dean, Mike Wirth.

Wilford received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from UT Knoxville in 1955 and his master’s degree in political science from Syracuse University.

He worked as a general assignment reporter and medical reporter for the Wall Street Journal. After a yearlong fellowship at Columbia University in 1961-1962, he became a contributing science editor at Time magazine. Then, in 1965, he became a science reporter at The New York Times. He also has been the paper’s assistant national news editor and director of science news.

Today, Wilford is probably the best-known science reporter at The New York Times, and he has been called the country’s preeminent space reporter. His beat is “the solar system,” and he has covered all the major explorations of space. He also has flown through the eye of a hurricane to report on cloud seeding, has submerged in a submarine, has searched for the Loch Ness monster in Scotland, and has flown with the International Ice Patrol in Newfoundland and Greenland.

In addition to the Pulitzer Prizes, Wilford has been honored with two awards from the Aviation-Space Writers Association, the G.M. Loeb Achievement Award of the University of Connecticut, the National Space Club Press Award and the Westinghouse Science Writing Award. In 1987, he received an honorary Litt.D. degree from Rhode Island College. Wilford has been a visiting professor and lecturer at Princeton, Syracuse, Duke, Yale and UT Knoxville.

The Donald G. Hileman Award is named for the first permanent dean of the College of Communications, the forerunner to the College of Communication and Information. The award was established in 1994 in celebration of the college’s 25th anniversary. It is given to college alumni who have made outstanding contributions to the field of communication and information.

The College of Communication and Information is made up of four schools: the School of Advertising and Public Relations, the School of Communication Studies, the School of Information Sciences, and the School of Journalism and Electronic Media. The college offers four undergraduate majors, two master’s degrees and is home to one of the oldest doctoral programs in communication and information in the southeastern United States.