Bill Owens, Executive Editor of 60 Minutes, Wins Honorary Degree at Towson University

–Richard E. Vatz
     Those who are familiar with my prolific — okay, excessive — media criticism of network news know that I am not a big admirer of Brian Williams’ work, or, for that matter, many in network television news.  In fact the last time I wrote something nice about someone in national television news, it was for Scott Pelley, the brilliant CBS News anchor who also heads up the unsurpassable “60 Minutes,” a show of consistently exquisite journalistic investigation.  Mr. Pelley was the recipient of the Honorary Degree in 2011 Spring Commencement at Towson University.
     On Friday, May 25th at the Towson Center, Towson graduate and current Executive Producer of “60 Minutes” William W. Owens, or Bill Owens, as I know him, will receive the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.  Also receiving an Honorary Degree will be Vivienne Shub, the extraordinary and perhaps unique great and indefatigable professional actress, about whom The Washington Post said 4 years ago, “Actresses about to turn 90 don’t have a wide selection of roles, but that doesn’t stop Vivienne Shub.” 
     I wrote the following nomination for Mr. Owens in March, but was told that unbeknownst to me, he coincidentally had already been chosen as our Honorary Degree recipient:
     I would like to nominate Bill Owens, a Towson University graduate two decades ago, for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.
     Mr. Owens has been the Executive Editor of “60 Minutes” for four years and introduced [CBS Evening News Anchor] Scott Pelley at Towson’s Commencement in 2011, as they are occupationally quite close and have worked together for years, producing segments for “60 Minutes II” and in Mr. Owens’ role as CBS News’ White House producer.   Scott Pelley is himself one of the most impressive and hard-working journalists in the country.  Mr. Owens also worked with Rita Braver, another excellent CBS journalist (whom I brought to speak at Towson years ago).
     The success of “60 Minutes” is indisputable.  In 2011, this exquisite news journal won seven Emmys – the most of any single program — in the News and Documentary awards in New York City.  This constituted the most successful evening for a news entity in this century.
     Bill Owens was integrally responsible for that success and was named in many of the awards along with Mr. Pelley.  Moreover, Mr. Owens has always credited Towson University as a significant factor in his success. 
     Bill Owens would be an exceptional choice for a Towson Honorary Degree. 
     The perspicacious Towson President’s Office of Maravene Loeschke chose Mr. Owens.  They’ve been at the helm since January, and I swear they are virtually error-free.
     It is an honor to have Mr. Bill Owens as the Honorary Degree recipient for the #1 Maryland university, Towson University.
Dr. Vatz has taught Media Criticism at Towson University for about 20 years.  He is the author of The Only Authentic Book of Persuasion, for which Bill Owens wrote a short commendation.

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