Dunn Family establishes Moyers Scholar program at Wake Forest Divinity School

By Jacob McConnico
June 28, 2005

James M. and Marilyn Dunn of Winston-Salem have given $100,000 to the Wake Forest University Divinity School to establish the Bill & Judith Moyers Scholar Program, which will provide funding for one Divinity School student a year to serve as an intern at the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty in Washington, D.C.

The gift, which is intended to recognize the substantial contributions of award-winning journalist Bill Moyers and his wife, Judith, to American public life, will be open to student applicants in the spring of 2006. Divinity School students will be eligible to apply for the Moyers Scholar program, which will provide a semester internship at the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty, a 70-year-old organization dedicated to defending and extending religious liberty for all people.

"The Moyers Scholar Program will forge bonds with the Baptist Joint Committee, help us recruit students interested in pursuing church-state studies and honor two great Americans (the Moyers)," said Bill Leonard, dean of the Wake Forest Divinity School. "It is a grand gift from two people (the Dunns) who have claimed our hearts and our consciences across the years."

James Dunn, resident professor of Christianity and public policy in the Divinity School, served as executive director of the BJC from 1980 to 1999 and works part time as president of the organization's endowment.

An ordained Baptist minister, Dunn has served as a pastor, campus minister and college professor during his long career. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Texas Wesleyan College and Bachelor of Divinity and Doctor of Theology degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he first met Bill Moyers more than 50 years ago.

Marilyn Dunn is the daughter of Edwin and Polly McNeely, longtime professors at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. She is a lyric soprano who participates extensively in various musical events in Winston-Salem and throughout the region.

James Dunn said he and his wife chose to honor the Moyers in this way because: "the name 'Moyers' has become a part of speech for all aware Americans. To suggest that someone is a 'Moyers' means that he or she is theologically informed, embodies integrity, and speaks truth to power with courage."

Bill Moyers, who was awarded an honorary degree from Wake Forest in 1997, is an internationally-recognized journalist, commentator and author. During his career in broadcast journalism, Moyers has won more than 30 Emmys, two Golden Baton awards and nine Peabody awards.

He served as a founding organizer of the Peace Corps and was press secretary for Lyndon Johnson before becoming the publisher of Newsday in 1967. He served as a reporter and anchor for public television before moving to CBS, where he was senior news analyst for the CBS Evening News. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Texas in 1956 and a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Southwestern.

Judith Moyers has been recognized for her work as an advocate for children by groups such as the Girl Scouts of America and the National Council of Churches. She has served as a United States commissioner to UNESCO, a member of the White House Commission on Children and a member of the National Governors' Association Task Force on Education and Economic Development. Born in Dallas, she is a graduate of the University of Texas earning a Bachelor of Science.

The Moyers collaborate with Public Affairs Television Inc., an independent production company founded by Bill and headed by Judith. Before their retirement in 2004, Judith Moyers was executive editor and Bill Moyers was managing editor and anchor of "NOW with Bill Moyers." They have three children, John, William Cope and Suzanne. Suzanne is a 1984 graduate of Wake Forest.

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