Conferred November 8, 1982
You have fashioned your newspaper, The Charleston Gazette, into an indominable instrument for truth. In recent years you have published investigative reports of abuses among automobile dealers and car repair shops, and corruption in the police department. You have been willing to criticize advertisers in your columns and to live with the resulting loss of patronage. You have helped enact a new open meeting and freedom of information act in West Virginia and have campaigned successfully to open courtrooms to cameras and to assure that even the earliest aspects of criminal proceedings are conducted in public. You, your editor, and one of your reporters were indicted under a West Virginia censorship law for exercising your freedom to publish the name of an accused felon. You challenged that law, at great personal cost, through the Supreme Court where you were vindicated when the indictments were dismissed and the law struck down.
A graduate of Yale University, you have served your country as a member of the armed forces during World War II, and your state as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates. You have sacrificed both profit and expediency for the right to publish the truth. The threats of opponents have not deterred you and, with skill and courage, you have insisted upon protecting our “right to know.” This insistence has earned you innumerable law suits but, more important, the lasting gratitude of lovers of liberty. It is fitting, therefore, that on the 145th anniversary of the death of its own courageous publisher, Elijah Parish Lovejoy, Colby College names you its 30th Lovejoy Fellow.
By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, William Edwin Chilton III, 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.