Distributed April 6, 2001
For Immediate Release
|Mary Jo Curtis
Welles Hangen Award
CBS anchor Dan Rather to receive journalism award April 16
CBS News anchor Dan Rather will be presented with Brown University’s Welles Hangen Award for Superior Achievement in Journalism on Monday, April 16, 2001, at 11 a.m. in Sayles Hall on The College Green. This award honors the memory of Welles Hangen ’49, a journalist captured and executed by Viet Cong and Khmer Rouge guerillas in Cambodia.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — CBS News anchor and Emmy Award winner Dan Rather will receive the University’s Welles Hangen Award for Superior Achievement in Journalism on Monday, April 16, 2001 at 11 a.m. in Sayles Hall on The College Green.
Created in 1993, the award honors the memory of Welles Hangen ’49, a journalist and NBC Hong Kong bureau chief who was captured and executed by Viet Cong and Khmer Rouge guerrillas while covering the invasion of Cambodia during the Vietnam War. In receiving the award, Rather will join the ranks of previous honorees Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, John Chancellor, Morley Safer and Christiane Amanpour.
The award presentation will be followed by “A Dialogue with Dan Rather.” Both the ceremony and Rather’s address are open to the public.
A familiar face in most American households, Rather is the anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News, as well as the anchor of 48 Hours and a correspondent for 60 Minutes II. Since the start of his career in 1950, Rather has witnessed and reported many of the events that defined the second half of the 20th century. From the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy and the 1968 Democratic National Convention, to Beijing, Bosnia, Haiti and Hong Kong more than two decades later, he has covered most of the world’s major news stories. He has reported on the civil rights movement, the White House, wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and Yugoslavia, and the quest for peace in South Africa and the Middle East. He has received numerous broadcast journalism honors, including Emmy Awards, the Peabody Award and citations from critical, scholarly, professional and charitable organizations.
During his 35 years with CBS News, Rather has held many prestigious positions, ranging from co-editor of 60 Minutes to anchor of CBS Reports and anchor of the weekend and weeknight editions of the CBS Evening News. He served as CBS News bureau chief in London and Saigon and was the White House correspondent during the Johnson and Nixon administrations. Rather has served as anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News since 1981. He is the author of The Camera Never Blinks (1977), The Camera Never Blinks Twice: The Further Adventures of a Television Journalist (1994), I Remember (1991), and The Palace Guard (1974). His most recent book is Deadlines & Datelines (1999), a collection of essays; he has also published an abridgment of Mark Sullivan’s landmark popular history, Our Times: America at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century.
Rather was born Oct. 31, 1931, in Wharton, Texas. In 1953, he received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Sam Houston State Teachers College, where he spent the next year as a journalism instructor. He also attended the University of Houston and the South Texas School of Law.
Born in New York City on March 22, 1930, Putnam Welles Hangen began his college career at the University of Virginia in 1945 and transferred to Brown for the start of his sophomore year. He was a gifted student with a passion for international relations and debate; in 1948, he won the Samuel C. Lamport Prize for the best essay on international relations and two Minnie Helen Hicks Prizes for excellence in debating.
Although Hangen’s student years were filled with excellence and achievement (Phi Beta Kappa, Manning Scholar, Wayland Scholar, Dean’s List every semester), he appears to have been a young man in a hurry. He left Brown at the end of his junior year and went to Paris for the 1948 session of the United Nations. His coverage of that U.N. event for the New York Herald Tribune started him on a career that would take him all over the globe – to Bonn, Athens, Berlin, New Delhi, Cairo, the Belgian Congo, Moscow, Hong Kong, Turkey, Vietnam. Along the way, Hangen found time to take courses at the University of Geneva (Switzerland) and Columbia University and transfer the credits to Brown, which awarded him his A.B. degree in June 1951, as a member of the Class of 1949. He spoke five languages.
Hangen began his career with the New York Times in 1950 as a correspondent in the Paris bureau. In 1953, at the age of 23, he established a bureau in Ankara, becoming the Times’ reporter in Turkey, then moved to Moscow. He resigned from the Times and made the move to television in 1956, taking over the Cairo bureau for NBC. The network sent him to New Delhi in 1960, to Germany in 1964, finally to Hong Kong as bureau chief.
Hangen was last seen alive on May 30, 1970, when he and his NBC crew were traveling with a crew from CBS about 25 miles south of Phnom Penh. The group was attacked just beyond a friendly checkpoint, when an antitank rocket hit the CBS jeep, killing the reporter and crew. Hangen and his NBC crew were surrounded and led away; they were executed three days later.
In the first years following Hangen’s disappearance, fellow journalists continued to investigate; Hangen’s wife began writing and speaking about journalists who were missing in Cambodia and Vietnam and continued to press for a resolution. (Hangen and the former Pat Dana had met in Athens in 1953 and were married in the spring of 1958 in Cairo. They had a daughter and a son, aged 1-1/2 and 4 years when he disappeared.) War and political upheaval in Cambodia kept searchers away until 1991, when an NBC crew returned. In 1992, a team of U.S. Army technicians found human remains, which DNA testing confirmed were those of Hangen. In January 1993, 23 years after he disappeared, Hangen was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His papers, notes, scripts, tapes and films are now part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Broadcasting in New York City, given by NBC in 1978.