PBS President & CEO Paula A. Kerger will be the featured speaker at UNC Asheville’s May 11 Commencement Ceremony, scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on the University Quad. Kerger will receive the UNC Asheville Chancellor’s Medallion as part of the ceremony.
“We are so honored that Paula Kerger has accepted our invitation,” said UNC Asheville’s Chancellor Nancy J. Cable, who will preside over the spring Commencement at the university. “Paula is someone I’ve come to know as a person, and come to respect as the stellar leader of one of America’s most important cultural institutions. She has been committed to making PBS’s educational programming for children more widely available, and she has overseen the development of PBS LearningMedia, helping teachers engage with their students through high-quality digital programming. PBS documentaries help our nation see itself more clearly. Paula truly is a champion for our nation’s culture and it will be an honor to welcome her to UNC Asheville.”
Kerger joined PBS in 2006 and is the longest-serving president and CEO in PBS history. PBS has moved from the 14th most-watched network in America to number six in the past decade. Over the course of a year, 86% percent of all U.S. television households watch PBS, and each month, Americans view an average of 255 million videos across PBS’s web, mobile and connected device platforms. Kerger also serves as president of the PBS Foundation, an independent organization that raises private sector funding — a significant source of revenue for new projects at PBS.
Kerger has been honored with the Woman of Achievement Award from Women in Development, New York; the National Education Association Friend of Education Award; and Promax/BDA, B&C and Multichannel News Brand Builder Award. In 2017, she received the Advancing American Democracy Award from the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.
Kerger received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Baltimore, where she serves on the Merrick School of Business Dean’s Advisory Council. She has received honorary doctorates from Washington University in St. Louis, Grand Valley State University, Allegheny College and Northeastern University. She is a member of the Women’s Forum, director of the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, a member of Meredith Corporation’s Board of Directors and chair of the board of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.
UNC Asheville will not bestow any honorary degrees this year as it has done for the past two decades. The university is undertaking a comprehensive review of the honorary degree selection process.
The UNC Asheville Chancellor’s Medallion is the university’s highest distinction, given to recognize individuals who demonstrate the highest commitment to community service, national leadership and enhancement of the university. Past recipients include A-B Tech President Emeritus K. Ray Bailey; university leaders Ruth and Luther Barnhardt; educator Lin Brown, founding director of the College for Seniors at OLLI at UNC Asheville; educator Francine Delany ’66 (posthumous), the university’s first African American graduate; journalist Gordon Greenwood ’30 who operated the Black Mountain News; philanthropist Adelaide Daniels Key, guiding force in the creation of the Lewis Rathbun Center; and attorney Karl H. Straus, one of the founders of the Legal Aid Society.
Some 550 graduates will cross the stage at the May 11 Commencement Ceremony on the Quad. In case of severe weather, the ceremony will be moved indoors to Kimmel Arena on campus.
In a new “Honor Your Roots” tradition, graduates this year are able to purchase a living commemorative white oak or red maple tree sapling for planting at home. The price, $20.19 in honor of the Class of 2019, will support student scholarships through the university’s Pisgah Scholars Program. For more information on UNC Asheville’s May 2019 Commencement, visit the Commencement website.