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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Two URI alums honored nationally for enriching society

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 20, 2000 -- Two extraordinary University of Rhode Island alumni have found themselves to be in extraordinary company. Christiane Amanpour and Robert D. Ballard, have been selected as 2000 Common Wealth Award winners, along with Angelican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, American Novelist E.L. Doctorow, and legendary dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov. The Common Wealth Awards are sponsored by PNC Financial Services Group and honor individuals who represent extraordinary talent and human spirit who have enriched society in exceptional ways.

"Christiane Amanpour and Robert Ballard have truly sought excellence and success in their fields and are well deserving of this honor. This award is a wonderful representation of the difference they have made in the lives of others, and is a reflection of the important contributions made to society by URI alumni," said Robert Beagle, URI's vice president of University Advancement. "Any institution would be proud to have two alumni honored among the five recipients," he added.

Christiane Amanpour, '83, received the Common Wealth Award for Mass Communications. She is CNN's chief international correspondent and is renowned for her reporting from most of the major war zones of the 1990's, including Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Rwanda, Algeria and Zaire. During the Persian Gulf War she was called CNN's "Voice of Baghdad," and she also earned wide acclaim for her impassioned accounts of Bosnia's brutal ethnic cleansing. Amanpour has received many prestigious awards in journalism such as the Peabody Award, two George Polk Awards and the Alfred I. du Pont-Columbia University Silver Baton. She also serves as contribution correspondent to 60 Minutes. Amanpour received her undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Rhode Island in 1983 and was awarded an honorary degree from URI in 1995.

Robert Ballard, '75, is awarded the Common Wealth Award for Science and Invention. Ballard is an oceanographer, explorer, author and educator. At the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Ballard pioneered deep ocean research with manned and remote-controlled submersible craft. In the last 30 years, he has led or taken part in more than 100 deep-sea expeditions. His famous discoveries include hydrothermal vents, or hot springs, deep in ocean waters, and fabled shipwrecks, such as the luxury liner, Titanic, and the German battleship, Bismarck. Ballard is the founder and president of the Institute for Exploration in Mystic, Conn., and is also the founder of the JASON Foundation for Education, which takes hundreds of thousands of young students on a virtual discovery expeditions worldwide. Ballard has also authored 15 books, including two bestsellers and has produced more than six Emmy award-winning television documentaries. He has received many honors and awards including National Geographic's Hubbard Medal. Ballard received his Ph.D. in marine geology and geophysics from the University of Rhode Island in 1975 and also was awarded an honorary degree from the University in 1986.

The Common Wealth Awards were created in 1979 to reward and encourage the greatest minds and talents of the modern world, and to date, the awards have bestowed nearly $2 million on 126 honorees worldwide. The awards are presented in the fields of mass communications, public service, dramatic arts, science and invention, literature, government, and sociology. Past Common Wealth honorees include statesman Henry Kissinger; author and Nobel laureate, Toni Morrison; acclaimed television journalist, Walter Cronkite; and father of the polio vaccine, Jonas Salk.


For Information: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-2116


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