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Thomas Pettit


Tom Pettit. chief national affairs correspondent for NBC News, will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Northern Iowa at its 1988 spring Commencement, May 14, 1988.

The honorary degree was approved Thursday, April 21, 1988, by the State Board of Regents, following recommendation of the University's Committee on Honorary Degrees and Faculty Senate, and with the endorsement of President Constantine Curris.

Pettit, a 1953 bachelor's degree graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, was a visiting professor on the UNI campus last summer, teaching two seminars for the Department of Communication and Theatre Arts, "National Election Coverage Methods" and "General Public Affairs Reporting Methods."

Earlier, he established a journalism scholarship fund for students at UNI majoring in broadcast journalism or minoring in journalism and planning a career in the field of communications.

In 1972, he received an Alumni Achievement Award from the UNI Alumni Association.

Pettit has won virtually every major award for news reporting, including three Emmys.  Based in the Washington, D. C., bureau from 1975 through 1982, he began covering the U. S. Senate in 1979, and was one of the active correspondents during the 1980 political year.

He reported from the states that had important Presidential primaries or caucuses, and was one of four NBC News TV reporters at the national political conventions, as he had been in 1972 and 1976.  He also helped cover President Reagan's inauguration in 1980.

From 1982 to 1985, he was NBC News executive vice president, returning to on air reporting as chief national affairs correspondent in the fall of 1985.  He will be NBC's chief correspondent at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions this summer.

For a 1969 "First Tuesday" segment reporting on the nation's experiments in chemical-biological warfare, Pettit won a Peabody, an Emmy, and other major awards.  He received his second Emmy as reporter-writer of "Some Footnotes to 25 Nuclear Years" on "First Tuesday" in 1970, and his third for "America's Nerve Gas Arsenal" for that same program in 1973.

Pettit gained national attention for his on-the-scene reporting of the shooting of President Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, in 1963.  He was stationed, on camera, in the basement of the Dallas jail when Oswald was killed.

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Pettit grew up in Waterloo.  Following his graduation from UNI, he began his broadcasting career as a reporter for WOI-TV, Ames, in 1953, and later worked for KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids, and WCCO-TV, Minneapolis.

He received a master's degree in American studies from the University of Minnesota in 1958.

His NBC News career started in 1959 when he became a reporter for WRCV-TV in Philadelphia.  In 1962, he transferred to NBC News' Los Angeles bureau.  He left NBC for a brief time in 1968 to becone a chief West Coast correspondent for the Public Broadcast Laboratory for National Educational Television.

Adapted by University Archivist Gerald L. Peterson from a University of Northern Iowa News Release, April 21, 1988.

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