The Dartmouth College Alumni Award is presented to alumni who have demonstrated extraordinary service to Dartmouth and civic organizations in addition to career accomplishment. The Alumni Awards are presented annually to individuals who graduated at least 25 years ago. This year, Bob Conn, Class of 1961 and a long-time member of the Dartmouth Club of the Piedmont, was selected to receive the award. Following is the text of the presentation made to Bob at the May 2006 Dartmouth Alumni Council dinner, outlining his achievements on behalf of Dartmouth and the community.
Also, a link to a story published in the Winston-Salem Journal can be found here.
Bob Conn ‘61
As a kid from Chicago you found yourself intrigued by Dartmouth’s rural academic character. Your first actual view of Hanover came when you were dropped off for freshman fall. It was everything you imagined and you quickly immersed yourself in a wide variety of activities, swimming for the freshman team, playing cello in the Handel Society Orchestra and working on the college newspaper. A pre-med student, with a major in Psychology, you appeared to be medical school bound. However, your true passion became evident as you wrote and served as news editor of The Dartmouth. A visiting Columbia University faculty member changed your life plans forever. With support from your father, who told you that you should pursue your hobby rather than worry about your so called “life work” in medicine, you decided to attend the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University.
Graduating with honors, you made another decision that significantly impacted your life when you accepted a position as a reporter for The Charlotte Observer and moved to North Carolina, your home for the last forty-four years. Your career as a writer and editor has been nothing short of astounding! With a background in science and medicine, you rose from reporter to national editor, news editor and medical editor during the two decades you were affiliated with this newspaper. Along the way, you received many awards and accolades, including the Pulitzer Gold Medal for Public Service as one of five writers of a series on byssinosis (brown lung disease) among cotton textile workers. Ethel Kennedy also presented you with the Robert F. Kennedy Grand Prize at her home in Virginia. In 1986 you accepted an offer to join the staff of Wake Forest University School of Medicine as a senior science writer. This position has enabled you to also teach at various colleges and universities, which you enjoy immensely. Of course, your favorite faculty experience occurred during the fall term of 1983 when you took a sabbatical to serve as a visiting scholar in the Policy Studies Program at your alma mater. As you wrote in an article for the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine entitled “Hanover Sabbatical”, “my classmates were incredulous, even jealous, as word spread that I was going to spend a term at Dartmouth.”
Immersion into the Dartmouth classroom simply represented one more avenue for you to remain involved with your alma mater. You have been a supportive volunteer from the moment you graduated, serving as secretary, treasurer, newsletter editor, enrollment chair, vice president and president of two different Dartmouth alumni clubs, secretary of the Class of 1961 for twenty-four years and class executive committee member for twenty-nine years, alumni councilor and chair of the council’s communications committee, member of the council’s ad hoc committee on the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine which resulted in a new magazine charter, president of the Class Secretaries Association, and member of the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine editorial board.
Your civic volunteerism has been no less impressive. You have served on the local boards of the American Heart Association, Neighborhood Watch, Visions of Hope, Faith Acts as Welfare Changes, Interfaith Partnership for Advocacy and Reconciliation and CHANGE. Much of your civic participation has centered around your faith and you have held a multitude of leadership roles at Temple Emanuel in Winston-Salem and Temple Beth El in Charlotte, including president and chairman of the board of the latter. As a result of your hard work and vision, Shalom Park opened in 1986 and currently provides a campus that encompasses much of the Jewish community in Charlotte.
News broadcaster Tom Brokaw, once said, “It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” Tonight, we thank you, Bob, for the difference that you have made in so very many lives. With deep appreciation for the extraordinary commitment that you have made to your alma mater, career and your community, we honor you with the presentation of the Dartmouth Alumni Award.