MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-Vivian Schiller, who earned her master’s degree from the Middlebury College Russian School in 1985, has been named president and chief executive officer of National Public Radio, effective January 5, 2009.

Currently senior vice president and general manager of the New York Times’ online operation, Schiller, 47, has more than 20 years experience in the media industry. Before joining NYTimes.com, she was senior vice president and general manager of the Discovery Times Channel, and prior to that she was 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. Programs produced under her auspices have earned five Emmy, two Peabody, and two DuPont awards.

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, of Bethesda, Md., 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 masters 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.”

National Public Radio is a membership-driven, privately supported, non-profit organization that serves about 26 million American listeners each week via nearly 850 public radio stations. Based in Washington, D.C., NPR’s international partnerships in cable, satellite, and short-wave services, in addition to npr.org’s online content and audio streaming, make its programming accessible almost anywhere in the world.