'First Lady of the Press,' Helen Thomas to speak at Centre"If God created the Earth in six days, he couldn't have rested on the seventh—he would have had to explain it to Helen Thomas." —President Gerald Ford
RELEASED: April 20, 2006
DANVILLE, KY—Legendary White House correspondent Helen Thomas will be the speaker for Centre College's 2006 Press Distinguished Lecture on April 27 at 7:30 p.m. The lecture will take place in Weisiger Theatre at Centre’s Norton Center for the Arts and is free and open to the public.
"It's a great honor to have Helen Thomas, the Dean of all White House reporters, as the sixth Press Distinguished Lecturer," says Milton Reigelman, Cowan Professor of English at Centre. "This is a woman who asks questions: sometimes uncomfortable but always interesting questions. Her recent notoriety has probably only sharpened her tongue."
Known as "the First Lady of the Press," Thomas is a former White House bureau chief. Praised as a trailblazer for breaking down barriers for women reporters, Thomas covered every president since John F. Kennedy. For 57 years, Thomas was a Washington correspondent for United Press International. She recently left this post and joined Hearst Newspapers as a syndicated columnist.
Born in Winchester, Ky., Thomas grew up in Detroit and graduated from Wayne State University. She was a copy girl on the now-defunct Washington Daily News. In 1943, she joined UPI and the Washington press corps. For 12 years, Thomas wrote radio news for UPI and later covered the federal government, including the FBI and Capitol Hill.
In November 1960, Thomas began covering President-elect John F. Kennedy, following him to the White House in January 1961. She was the only woman print journalist traveling with President Nixon to China during his breakthrough trip in January 1972.
Thomas has traveled around the world with Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton and President George W. Bush. She has covered every economic summit during her tenure.
Thomas has written three books, including her latest, Thanks for the Memories Mr. President: Wit and Wisdom from the Front Row at the White House.
The Press Distinguished Lecture Series is named in honor of Kentucky civic leaders O. Leonard and Lillian H. Press.
Leonard Press, the founding director of Kentucky Educational Television, pursued creative ways for the public broadcasting service to deliver high-quality arts programming throughout the Commonwealth. Lillian Press was the founding director of the Kentucky Governor's Scholars Program and has held high-level posts with the Kentucky Department of Mental Health and the Bureau for Health Services.
The lecture series was endowed through a gift from the late Lucille Caudill Little, a Lexington philanthropist.Little was a Kentucky native who established a charitable foundation based on family success in the horse and tobacco industries. She played a pivotal role in the founding of numerous nonprofit ventures, including the Lexington Children’s Theatre and Studio Players, the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra and the Living Arts and Science Center. Little previously supported the arts at Centre, where a classroom is named in her honor in the Jones Visual Arts Center.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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