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On your trip to the People's Republic of China last May, you talked with a Chinese professional who no longer practices his profession because he is afraid of the political risks. You told him that your "whole life was built around the good fortune of having been born into a free society". We honor you tonight because you have devoted that life to enhancing freedom for the rest of us.
You have brought into focus and into print some of the most difficult stories of our time including publication of the Pentagon Papers and documentation of the decision to admit the Shah of Iran into the United States. Son of a farmer born in Byelorussia you have demonstrated an inspiring reverence for freedom. Now in your thirty-eighth year with the New York Times, and executive editor since 1977, you more than any other single American, define what is worthy of public attention and debate. We are secure in your stewardship of that awesome responsibility. You have been described as a tough, intelligent, endlessly questioning reporter. For our forthrightness in covering the news during two years in heavily censored Poland, you were expelled. In 1960 you were selected for the Pulitzer Prize for your reporting during that era.
In the nearby rural community of Albion, Maine, Elijah Parish Lovejoy was born 179 years ago today. In an editorial for the first issue of the St. Louis Observer, Lovejoy in 1833 pledged his paper "to divine truth in all its severity." On this special occasion coinciding with the birthday of that respected martyr, his college takes pride in honoring you as the twenty-ninth Lovejoy Fellow for your like willingness to defend freedom of the press regardless of costs or consequences.
By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College I confer upon you, A. M. ROSENTHAL, the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma which I place in your hand are the visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars, to all the rights and privileges of which I declare you entitled.