NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller will speak at Language Schools Commencement exercises, on Friday, August 13, 2010. She will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters, in recognition of her exemplary and varied career in the media industry as journalist, documentarian, and business leader.
Schiller, who earned her master's degree from the Middlebury College Russian School in 1985, was named president and chief executive officer of National Public Radio last year. She has more than 20 years' experience in the media industry, having formerly served as vice president and general manager of the New York Times' online operation, NYTimes.com; as senior vice president and general manager of the Discovery Times Channel; and, prior to that, as senior vice president of CNN Productions.
Schiller began her career as a simultaneous Russian interpreter in the former Soviet Union, which led her to documentary production work for Turner Broadcasting Company. When contacted by Middlebury College shortly after the NPR announcement, Schiller said, "My studies at the Russian School in Vermont and at Middlebury's School in Moscow ingrained in me a love of the Russian language and a global perspective that has informed my career in media."
Schiller credits a Middlebury professor of Russian for much of her success. "I began learning Russian as an undergraduate at Cornell University with no intention of sticking with it as a major," she recalled, "but one teacher was so inspiring that I stuck with it through the master's program and beyond, and that teacher was Kevin Moss. He introduced me not just to the rules of grammar and syntax, but to the beauty and joy of Russian. And that made all the difference."