Moyerses Call for Civic Engagement, Access to Ideas at Woodrow Wilson Conferral of First “Public Intellectual” Award

FOR RELEASE: February 8, 2007

CONTACT: Beverly Sanford | (609) 452-7007 x181


PRINCETON, NJ—“The salvation of democracy requires a public aroused by the knowledge of what is being done to them in their name,” said noted television journalist and political commentator Bill Moyers at a February 7 award ceremony hosted by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.
Bill & Judith Moyers

Judith Davidson Moyers, president of their shared production company Public Affairs Television, added, “All of us are challenged to help our students, our audiences, our fellow human beings test and refine ideas. To accomplish that we must connect.”

The Moyerses jointly accepted the Woodrow Wilson Foundation’s first-ever Frank E. Taplin, Jr. Public Intellectual Award during a dinner at New York’s Colony Club, attended by 150 guests. The evening also featured tributes to the award’s namesake and the late Eleanor Thomas Elliott, chair emerita of the Woodrow Wilson Board.

Bill Moyers, in accepting the award, emphasized the role of “novelists, playwrights, artists, historians, philosophers, composers, scholars, teachers, all of whom we consider public thinkers” in making clear “not only how to improve our lives as individuals but how to nurture a flourishing democracy.”

Defining the role of a “public intellectual” as offering public access to a full range of perspectives, Ms. Moyers described in her acceptance speech the challenge facing both teachers and journalists: “How do you share the information, the new interpretations, the thrilling questions and the rattling discoveries of today with your ‘audience’? How can opportunities be opened up for students to think—as public television’s beloved Mr. Rogers said: ‘Simpler. Deeper.’”

The award is a memorial to Mr. Taplin, a Woodrow Wilson Foundation trustee emeritus and former vice chair. A Cleveland native and longtime Princeton resident, Mr. Taplin was known for his commitments to such organizations as the Metropolitan Opera, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Pierpont Morgan Library, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Marlboro School of Music and Festival, and the American Philosophical Society.

The inaugural Taplin Award dinner was dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Elliott, who chaired the Woodrow Wilson board in the 1990s, served as a foundation trustee for more than two decades, and played a leading role in establishing the Taplin Award. At the time of her death in December 2006, Mrs. Elliott was co-chair of the dinner.

In selecting recipients of the Taplin Award, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation solicits nominations from community and academic leaders who can speak to the impact of the nominee’s work on the local, regional, or national level. Each year’s award recipients give remarks at a dinner ceremony.

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The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation has its origins in a now-famous fellowship program, begun in 1945, which helped the United States create a great generation of college teachers and intellectual leaders. Today’s Woodrow Wilson continues to cultivate excellence in teaching and learning at every level of education, putting the arts and sciences at the service of democracy.


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