Couric will be the 22nd individual honored by the University and the Freedom Forum since the Neuharth Award program began in 1989. The award, recognizing lifetime achievement, is named for USA TODAY and Freedom Forum founder Al Neuharth, a South Dakota native and 1950 USD graduate, who will be on campus to make the presentation.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 8, at the USD DakotaDome. Doors will open at 6 p.m. No tickets are required for limited general seating, available on a first come, first served basis. Free tickets for preferred seating may be requested until Oct. 1 by calling (605) 677-6060 or sending an e-mail to Specify ticket quantity (up to six), name and mailing address.

The 90-minute program will be telecast live on South Dakota Public Broadcasting. SDPB-Television will repeat the program at 1 p.m. CDT, Sunday, Oct. 11.

"Twenty years ago, as we were presenting the first award to Walter Cronkite, a young Katie Couric was making the leap from local TV news to NBC," Neuharth said. "Millions have watched the evolution of Couric's career as she has become an accomplished, respected broadcast journalist and earned the prestigious seat Cronkite once held as anchor of the 'CBS Evening News.'"

Couric is the fifth CBS journalist to receive the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media. Past recipients include: Walter Cronkite of CBS (1989), Carl T. Rowan (1990), Helen Thomas (1991), Tom Brokaw (1992), Larry King (1993), Charles Kuralt of CBS (1994), Albert R. Hunt and Judy Woodruff (1995), Robert MacNeil (1996), Cokie Roberts (1997), Tim Russert and Louis D. Boccardi (1998), John Seigenthaler (1999), Jim Lehrer (2001), Tom Curley (2002), Don Hewitt of CBS (2004), Garrison Keillor (2005), Bob Schieffer of CBS (2006), John Quinn and Ken Paulson (2007), and Charles Overby (2008).

When the "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric" debuted on Sept. 5, 2006, Couric became the first female solo anchor of a weekday network evening news broadcast. Since then, she has reported and anchored the broadcast from locations as diverse as the California wildfires, the Minneapolis bridge collapse, Iraq, Syria and Jordan. For the "CBS Evening News" and "60 Minutes," she has interviewed President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, John and Elizabeth Edwards, Israeli Prime Minister Tzipi Livin, Norah Jones and Michael J. Fox, among many others.

Couric led CBS's coverage of the historic 2008 presidential election. During the campaign, she anchored the "CBS Evening News" and live primetime coverage from the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire and Ohio primaries, as well as Super Tuesday and other primary nights from CBS studios in New York. She also launched a series of Web casts from the Democratic and Republican national conventions, the presidential and vice presidential debates, election night, inauguration night and President Obama's 100th day in office. USC's Annenberg School for Communication gave Couric the Walter Cronkite award for Special Achievement for her "National Impact on the 2008 Campaign."

Couric completed a 15-year run as co-anchor of NBC News' "Today" on May 31, 2006. While at NBC, Couric also was contributing anchor for "Dateline NBC." Couric joined NBC News in 1989 as deputy Pentagon reporter before serving as its first national correspondent in June 1990, which included two stints covering the Gulf War.

Couric began her career as a desk assistant at ABC News in Washington, D.C., in 1979. From there, she worked for CNN (1980-84) as an assignment editor, associate producer, producer and political correspondent; WTVJ in Miami (1984-86); and WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., (1987-89) as a general assignment reporter.

Two years after losing her husband, Jay Monahan, to colon cancer in 1998, Couric launched the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance in association with the Entertainment Industry Foundation and Lilly Tartikoff, to fund new medical research in colorectal cancer and to conduct educational programs encouraging the prevention and early detection of the disease through proper screening. Following Couric’s on-air colonoscopy in 2000, a scientifically documented 20 percent increase was noted in the number of colonoscopies performed across the country. Researchers at the University of Michigan dubbed this "The Couric Effect."

Couric received the George Foster Peabody Award for her March 2000 series on colon cancer, which also led to NBC News receiving the 2001 RTNDA-Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence. She also has won six Emmy Awards, the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Award, a National Headliner Award, a Matrix Award, two American Women in Radio and Television Gracie Awards, the Harvard University School of Public Health’s Julius B. Richmond Award and UNICEF’s Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award.

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