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FOR RELEASE: May 10, 2002

SCRIPPS CONTACTS: Mario Aguilera or Dora Dalton (858) 534-3624


Annual award recognizes science in the public interest

The second annual award honoring the memory of William A. Nierenberg, who led Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, as director for more than two decades, will be awarded to television newsman Walter Cronkite.

Cronkite will receive the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest during a ceremony on Sunday, June 2, at 12:00 noon in front of the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. The event will include "A Seaside Chat with Walter Cronkite," which is free to the public, featuring Cronkite in conversation with Scripps Director Charles F. Kennel. Cronkite will be presented with a medal and $25,000.

Scripps is awarding the prize as the institution prepares to kick off its centennial celebration; Scripps will turn 100 on September 26, 2003.

The prize is named for William Nierenberg (1919-2000), who was a renowned national science leader. He served Scripps Institution as director from 1965 to 1986. The recipient of numerous awards and honors for professional research and public service, Nierenberg was widely known for a long record of national and international service. He served on various panels of the Presidents’ Science Advisory Committee. A leading expert in several fields of underwater research and warfare, Nierenberg was primarily known for his work in low-energy nuclear physics.

"The Nierenberg Prize annually honors the memory of William A. Nierenberg by recognizing those who promote science in the public interest," said Scripps Director Kennel. "The prize reflects Scripps’s mission to seek, teach, and communicate scientific understanding of the earth for the benefit of society and the environment. More than anyone else, Walter Cronkite shaped how two generations of Americans think about science and its meaning. He taught the value to humans of science, and by his example, he communicated the human values of science."

Voted numerous times by the public as the "most trusted man in television news," Cronkite has been affiliated with CBS News since 1950. As a correspondent, he covered events from the Allied assaults at Normandy to the Nuremberg trials. He anchored the "CBS Evening News" from 1962 to 1981 and is particularly remembered for his coverage of the U.S. space program.

One of Cronkite’s early interactions with Scripps was in 1982, when he had the opportunity to join the Scripps-led OASIS research cruise, on the East Pacific Rise in the Pacific Ocean. The expedition was the first to introduce journalists to the newly discovered hydrothermal vents, which Cronkite saw firsthand by journeying nearly two miles to the ocean floor in the submersible Alvin. He reported his experiences on his summer science series, "Walter Cronkite's Universe."

Cronkite received honors for "Can the World Be Saved?", a series of pioneering environmental reports featured regularly on the "CBS Evening News" in the 1970s and ’80s. Several of the programs were concerned with the oceans and their inhabitants, and their importance to humankind.

Cronkite was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in January 1981. When awarding the medal, President Jimmy Carter said of Cronkite, "He has reported and commented on the events of the last two decades with a skill and insight which stands out in the news world, in a way which has made the news of the world stand out for all of us."

He also has received the Governor’s Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and was elected into its Hall of Fame.

A lifelong, avid sailor, he has written four books about his sailing adventures. In 1996, he published his autobiography, A Reporter’s Life, and participated in a documentary series about his life, Cronkite Remembers, which aired on CBS and the Discovery Channel.

Birch Aquarium admission is not included with the Walter Cronkite free, public event.

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