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Conferred November 10, 1993, by Colby President William R. Cotter.
Eileen Shanahan, you have carved for yourself a reputation for unwavering and uncompromising dedication to truth and fairness. Born and reared in Washington, D.C., you attended George Washington University and graduated not only with a degree, but with a national student newspaper award to your credit. You honed your craft as a young journalist with the United Press and the Cronkite Radio Bureau, then, as a reporter at the Research Institute of America, you assumed the economics beat.
You joined the Washington bureau of the New York Times in 1962 and helped turn a neglected stepchild, business, into one of the most read and respected sections of the paper. You also convinced your editors that the burgeoning women's movement deserved careful and respectful coverage--and you took on that duty.
You were the most prominent plaintiff in a successful sex-discrimination suit against the New York Times. You left the paper in 1977 to serve as assistant secretary for public affairs under Health, Education and Welfare secretary Joseph Califano and earned a reputation for forthright and honest dealings with the press.
After stops at the Washington Star, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Medill School of Journalism, you covered the 1986 Tax Reform Act for Congressional Quarterly, and from there orchestrated one of your proudest accomplishments, the founding of Governing, a magazine designed to inform Washington about issues in state and local government. Since 1991 you have been Washington Bureau Chief of the St. Petersburg Times.
Throughout your remarkable career you have been a champion of female and minority journalists, serving as mentor to many through your participation in programs founded by the late Lovejoy Award recipient Robert Maynard, among others, and in the Journalism and Women Symposium.
As Elijah Parish Lovejoy did, you have paid a price for going against the grain, for upholding your ideals in the face of institutional indifference and hostility, and for being born into a generation that was not quite ready for women of your strength and stature. We honor you tonight as an inspiration to all of us, as proof that each of us can influence the future and as a reminder, so many years after Elijah Lovejoy's martyrdom, that a person of principle carries more weight than any mob.
By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Eileen Shanahan, the degree Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma, which I place in your hand are visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars to all the rights and privileges of which I declare you entitled.