JOHN FISHER BURNS, for more than three decades, readers of The New York Times have depended on your dispatches from the world’s hotspots: Beijing during the Cultural Revolution, Johannesburg as apartheid fell, Kabul under the Taliban, and, for the last five years, Baghdad. This broad experience imbues your reporting with historical context and rich texture, even in the crush of daily deadlines. Your acumen, your craft, and your courage to cover the world’s most dangerous conflicts earned you the title chief foreign correspondent for The New York Times. You are, in fact, the chief foreign correspondent of your era, and your work establishes a platinum standard for future generations of journalists. Like Elijah Parish Lovejoy, you have put uncovering and publishing the truth above your own safety. Your readers, your profession, and a world that depends on the free flow of accurate information are all beneficiaries. Colby is proud to add your name to the list of distinguished journalists who have upheld the ideals for which we remember Lovejoy.
By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, JOHN FISHER BURNS, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. The hood and this diploma, which I place in your hands, are visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars, to all the rights and privileges of which I declare you entitled.
Conferred September 30, 2007