Conferred December 2, 1976, by Colby President Robert E. L. Strider.
Native North Carolinian, graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a classical scholar both by education and a kind of parental osmosis, Mr. Royster entered the journalistic world in New York in the mid-thirties as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Except for an interlude of sea duty with the Navy during the Second World War, he pursued his career with the same distinguished newspaper until 1971, when he became Kenan Professor of Journalism and Public Affairs at the University of North Carolina. He has continued to be a regular columnist with the Journal. As Washington correspondent and eventually as editor, his talent was early recognized. More than twenty years ago Mr. Royster received a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing, especially, as the citation expressed it, for “an ability to decide the underlying moral issues, illuminated by a deep faith and confidence in the people of our country.” During these years, in large part through Mr. Royster’s energy and imagination and through the support, insight, and professional skill of his publisher, the late Bernard Kilgore, himself an earlier recipient of the Colby Lovejoy Fellowship, the Journal came to be recognized as one of America’s great newspapers. The precision and craftsmanship, warmth and dry wit, and indeed the elegance of Mr. Royster’s writing are well known to readers of the regular column, “Thinking Things Over,” in which he comments on matters ranging from economic analysis to the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, the character of Mao Tse-tung to the qualities of leadership of President-elect Carter. Colby is honored by the presence of this superb exemplar of the journalistic profession and we greet him with admiration as twenty-fourth Lovejoy Fellow.
By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College I confer upon you, Vermont Royster, 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.