The Literati Award honors individuals who have used the written word to advance the ideals of creativity, conviction, innovation and scholarship and who have had a significant impact on culture and the community through their work. This award was created by the Friends of the SMU Libraries/Colophon in 2010 and was established in honor of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the organization to celebrate the power of the written word and to recognize significant achievements in creativity.
The 2019 Literati Award recipient is journalist and author, Jim Lehrer.
Jim Lehrer was born in Wichita, Kan. in 1934. He is a graduate of Victoria College in Texas and the University of Missouri. After three years as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps, he worked for ten years in Dallas as a newspaperman and then as the host of a local experimental news program on public television.
He came to Washington with PBS in 1972, teaming with Robert MacNeil in 1973 to cover the Senate Watergate hearings. They began in 1975 what became “The MacNeil/Lehrer Report,” and, in 1983, “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” the first 60-minute evening news program on television. When MacNeil retired in 1995, the program was renamed “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.”
Lehrer has been honored with numerous awards for journalism, including a presidential National Humanities Medal in 1999, the News & Documentary Emmy’s Chairman’s Award in 2010 and in October 2011 he received the Fourth Estate Award from the National Press Club.
In the last seven presidential elections, he moderated twelve of the nationally televised candidate debates. Lehrer’s contributions as both a journalist and debate moderator have led many to recognize him with national service awards, including the Colonial Williamsburg Churchill Bell Award in 2011 and the Distinguished Service Award for the Advancement of American Public Discourse on Foreign Policy from the American Committees on Foreign Relations.
Lehrer is the author of 20 novels, two memoirs, four plays and a non-fiction work about the presidential debates titled "Tension City" that was published by Random House in September 2011. His latest novel, “Super,” was published in April 2010 and is a story of celebrity and murder aboard the Sante Fe’s railroad’s famous Super Chief, known as “The Train of the Stars” during Hollywood’s heyday. He and his novelist wife Kate have three daughters and six grandchildren.
Jim Hart ’69 (2010)
Laura Bush ’68 (2011)
Marsh Terry ’53, ’54 (2012)
Lee Cullum ’61 (2013)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (2014)
Willard Spiegelman (2015)
Darwin Payne ’68 (2016)
Rena Pederson (2017)
Skip Hollandsworth (2018)