CEO of First Amendment Center Named 2013 Commencement Speaker

CEO of First Amendment Center Named 2013 Commencement Speaker

CEO of First Amendment Center Named 2013 Commencement Speaker

Buena Vista University has announced that Ken Paulson, president and CEO of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University and in Washington, D.C., will be the 2013 Commencement speaker on May 25.

“I’m honored to serve as commencement speaker at Buena Vista University and look forward to the opportunity to visit with the emerging generation of smart and engaged students on this vibrant campus,” says Paulson.

Paulson is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law and the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He also has served as an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University Law School. In 2008, he received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from American University.

Prior to accepting his position at the First Amendment Center, Paulson served as the editor and senior vice president/news of USA Today. He is now a columnist on USA Today’s board of contributors, writing about First Amendment issues and the news media.

“Throughout his career Ken Paulson has been an influential advocate for First Amendment rights,” says BVU President Fred Moore. “We are extremely fortunate to have our Commencement day fit in with his busy schedule and look forward to his message to our Class of 2013.”

During his career, Paulson has drawn on his background as both a journalist and lawyer, serving as the editor or managing editor of newspapers in five different states.

He was on the team of journalists who founded USA Today in 1982 before moving on to manage newsrooms in Westchester County, N.Y., Green Bay, Wis., Bridgewater, N.J. and at Florida Today in Brevard County, Fla.

Paulson is also the founder of 1 for All, an unprecedented national campaign on behalf of the First Amendment, launched on July 1, 2010, with support from more than 1,100 news, arts and religious organizations.

He also is past-president of the American Society of News Editors, the nation’s largest organization of news-media leaders.

Paulson was the host of the Emmy-honored television program "Speaking Freely," seen in more than 60 PBS markets nationwide over five seasons, and the author of "Freedom Sings," a multimedia stage show celebrating the First Amendment that continues to tour the nation’s campuses.

He was an early advocate of making newspaper content available online, launching online newspapers in both Florida and New York in 1993.

Paulson has been a regular guest lecturer at the American Press Institute (API), speaking to more than 5,000 journalists about First Amendment issues over a 12-year span. He was honored with the API Lifetime Service Award. In 2010 and 2011, he served as chair of the PBS Editorial Standards Review Committee.

In 2007, Paulson was named a fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), "the highest honor SPJ bestows upon a journalist for extraordinary contributions to the profession." In 2008, he received the Robert S. Abbott Memorial Award for Meritorious Service in Mass Communications from the Southern Regional Press Institute. He has also been elected to the Illini Publishing Hall of Fame at the University of Illinois.

In October 2012, he received the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

His wife, Peggy, is an occupational therapist in the Nashville area. They have two adult children.

Commencement ceremonies begin at 2:30 p.m. in Siebens Fieldhouse on the BVU campus. The baccalaureate service will be held at 10:30 a.m. at Schaller Memorial Chapel. For additional details, go to