Citation in Honor of Donald E. Graham

Presented at the 2017 Commencement of Franklin & Marshall College

Donald Edward Graham, scion of a distinguished American newspaper family, has served the nation as a soldier, police officer, reporter, general news manager, publisher and, today, as a successful business executive and generous philanthropist.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Philip L. and Katharine Meyer Graham, Mr. Graham is a graduate of Harvard College, where he earned his first stripes as a journalist as a member of The Harvard Crimson, the college's morning daily. He would eventually be elected its president.

Not long after graduating from Harvard in 1966, he was drafted into military service as an information specialist with the 1st Calvary Division in Vietnam, concluding his tour of duty in 1968. On returning home to Washington, D.C., where his mother was then publisher of The Washington Post (succeeding her husband, who died in 1963), Mr. Graham found a city still reeling from the unaddressed racism and despair at the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Although always knowing he was likely to one day take over "the family business" as publisher of the Post, Mr. Graham felt compelled to serve the city he called home, so he joined the metropolitan police department.

In 1971, Mr. Graham began his career at The Washington Post as a reporter and subsequently held several news and business positions there and at Newsweek magazine. He served as publisher of The Washington Post for more than two decades, from January 1979 until September 2000, and as chairman of the paper from September 2000 to February 2008.

He was elected a director of The Washington Post Company in 1974, and rose to executive vice president and general manager of the newspaper in 1976. He served as president of the company from 1991 until September 1993, when he became chairman. He sold the newspaper in 2013 to Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and renamed the company Graham Holdings Company, of which he remains chairman.

Beyond the world of journalism, Mr. Graham is an avid fan of jazz and blues music. He is also a co-founder of TheDream.US, a national scholarship fund created to help immigrant youth—often referred to as DREAMers—get a college education. Previously, he served as chairman of the District of Columbia College Access Program (DC-CAP), a private foundation he co-founded in 1999 that has helped double the number of D.C. public high school students going on to college and triple the number graduating. Since its inception, DC-CAP has assisted more than 23,000 D.C. students enroll in college and provided scholarships in excess of $33 million. He remains a member of the DC-CAP board.

Donald E. Graham, for your commitment to journalism, for your service to your country and to your community, and for your philanthropic leadership enabling thousands of students to realize their dreams of a college education, Franklin & Marshall College bestows upon you the Honorary Degree, Doctor of Humane Letters.

  • Donald E. Graham Donald E. Graham Image Credit: Deb Grove
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