A group of seven Rochester Institute of Technology alumni who have won a combined 11 Pulitzer Prizes are this year’s recipients of the RIT Isaiah Thomas Award in Publishing.
The Isaiah Thomas Award in Publishing, named for one of America’s great patriot printers, recognizes outstanding contributions made to the publishing industry. The honor is presented annually by RIT’s School of Print Media. This year’s recipients are all graduates from RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences:
Paul Benoit ’76, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1979 in the Feature Photography category while working for Boston Herald-American. Benoit and members of the paper’s photography staff won for their coverage of the blizzard of 1978.
Robert Bukaty ’82, winner of Pulitzer Prize in 1999 while working for The Associated Press. Bukaty and fellow RIT alumnus Dan Loh were part of the AP photography staff honored in the Feature Photography category for their series of images of the key players and events surrounding President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and the impeachment hearings.
Ken Geiger ’11, winner of Pulitzer Prize in 1993 while working for The Dallas Morning News. Geiger and William Snyder, an RIT alumnus who is currently the program chair of RIT’s photojournalism program, won in the Spot News Photography category for their images of the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.
Stan Grossfeld ’73, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes in 1984 and 1985 while working for The Boston Globe. Grossfeld won in 1984 in the Spot News category for his series of photographs revealing the effects of war on the people of Lebanon. In 1985, he earned a Pulitzer in the Feature Photography category for a portfolio of images of the famine in Ethiopia and of illegal aliens on the Mexican border. Grossfeld was also among the finalists for Pulitzers in 1984, 1994 and 1996.
Dan Loh ’95, winner of Pulitzer Prize in 1999 in the Features Photography category while working for The Associated Press, for his coverage of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
William Snyder ’81, winner of four Pulitzer Prizes, in 1989, 1991, 1993 and 2006, while working for The Dallas Morning News. Snyder was honored in 1989 in the Explanatory Journalism category. Snyder was part of a three-person team that reported how the National Transportation Safety Board conducts air-crash investigations following a crash in 1986. In 1991, Snyder won a Pulitzer in the Feature Photography category for his images of ill and orphaned children living in deplorable conditions in Romania. Snyder and Geiger won in the Spot News category in 1993 for their images of the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Under Snyder’s leadership as director of photography at The Dallas Morning News, the staff earned a Pulitzer in 2006 in the Breaking News Photography category for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina.
Anthony Suau ’78, winner of Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for Feature Photography while at The Denver Post, for a portfolio of images depicting the tragic effects of starvation in Ethiopia and for a single photograph of a woman at her husband’s gravesite on Memorial Day.
The seven recipients will be honored during a ceremony Sept. 22 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The Newseum features five centuries of news history with exhibits and galleries including one of a comprehensive collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning images.
“I’m extremely honored to be recognized by RIT, one of the leading institutions of higher learning in the fields of imaging arts and sciences,” says Loh. “It was a dream of mine to be able to attend RIT, so it is such an honor to be recognized in this way. RIT is truly an incredible place and can easily set any aspiring photographer off in the right direction.”
Adds Snyder: “I am honored to be included with this distinguished group of RIT photojournalism alumni and thrilled that the university has chosen to honor us this year with the Isaiah Thomas Award in Publishing. It is a testament to the great legacy of RIT’s Photojournalism Program.”
Past recipients of the award include Mark Mikolajczyk, president and publisher of Florida Today; Thomas Curley, president and chief executive officer of The Associated Press; Allen Neuharth, chairman and president of the Gannett Co. Inc.; and Katharine Graham, president of Washington Post Co.
“This group of distinguished photojournalists has demonstrated significant career achievements in the news media industry,” says Twyla Cummings, the Paul and Louise Miller Distinguished Professor at RIT. “By bestowing them with the Isaiah Thomas Award in Publishing, it further highlights the caliber of their journalistic work and their significant contributions to the industry. We are excited to honor them at the Newseum as it aligns with the tradition and spirit that Isaiah Thomas symbolized.”
The Paul and Louise Miller professorship is an endowed chair that was established in 1976 by the Trustees of the Gannett Foundation in honor of Paul and Louise Miller. Paul Miller rose to a position of international influence in both the Gannett Corp. and The Associated Press, becoming president of Gannett Corp. in 1957 and elected president of The Associated Press in 1963. One of the professorship’s goals is to bring greater recognition to the newspaper industry.
RIT established the Isaiah Thomas Award in 1979 to honor leaders in the newspaper industry. The award is named in tribute to an early leader of the American printing industry. In 1779, Isaiah Thomas created The Massachusetts Spy at a print shop known as the “sedition factory” by the British colonial government. Additionally, in 1810, Thomas wrote The History of Printing in America, which was regarded as the basic source of information on early American printing and publishing.