Page Center honors ground-breaking innovators at third annual awards dinner

The careers of Dean Baquet, Marilyn Laurie and Jack Rowe were recognized at the fundraising event, which was filled with kind words, wise advice, optimism — and a snowstorm.

More than 200 people attended the third annual Arthur W. Page Center Awards dinner on Feb. 20 in New York City. Credit: Donna AlbericoAll Rights Reserved.

NEW YORK — The third annual Arthur W. Page Awards highlighted the commitment to integrity communications leaders make every day. The 2019 class of honorees included innovators and ground-breakers who are respected in their fields and beyond.

More than 200 people braved a winter storm to honor the executive editor of The New York TImes Dean Baquet, former executive vice president of brand strategy at AT&T Marilyn Laurie, and former CEO of Aetna Jack Rowe on Feb. 20 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. The Arthur W. Page Center is a research center in Penn State's Bellisario College of Communications.

Page Center chairman Bill Nielsen hosted the event and emphasized the need for integrity in today's media while echoing the center's mission to enhance responsibility and ethics in public communications.

"What the public hears less about in the current environment are the many journalists, public relations practitioners, business, marketing and advertising executives who work diligently to uphold the very highest ethical and professional standards in the course of communicating with the public," Nielsen said. "That's what tonight is all about. That's why we established this event."

This year's honorees were honored with a Larry Foster Award for Integrity in Public Communication for holding longstanding values throughout their careers. Rowe was honored first. Credited for turning Aetna from old and failing to successful and vibrant, Rowe emphasized the importance of listening.

"Do not rush," he said. "Stay calm. Listen to what's happening."

Center advisory board member Roger Bolton introduced Rowe and shared several stories of how Rowe's vision turned the aging organization into the thriving global company it is today.

After Rowe's acceptance speech, board member Sandra Clark introduced Baquet and also shared a litany of examples of how Baquet exhibited integrity throughout his long career in the news business. Baquet made some last-minute changes to his speech after a tweet from the U.S. president earlier in the day called The Times the "enemy of the people."

“'Enemy of the people' is not just a tossed-off line that sounds good in a tweet. It is a particularly pernicious phrase with a deep history," the Pulitzer Prize-winning newsman said. He thanked the center for his award, adding, "It means a great deal coming from a place that is committed to 'truth well told.' That is a particularly comforting notion today."

Page Center Awards honoree Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times, accepts his Larry Foster Award. Credit: Arthur W. Page Center

Closing the evening was a touching posthumous tribute to Laurie, the first woman to be hired as an executive vice president at AT&T. Colleague and 2017 Larry Foster Award honoree Dick Martin shared what made Laurie special.

Following a video honoring Laurie's legacy, he said, "Marilyn was never asked to lie, but she needed the grit of a coal miner to find the truth.”

This was the third installment of the annual event. In 2017, the honorees were Ann Barkelew, Alan Murray and Martin. Last year, the center honored Bill George, Gwen Ifill and John Onoda. Learn more about previous years’ events here.

Distinguished Penn State alumnus Larry Foster founded the Page Center in 2004 with fellow public relations legends Jack Koten and Ed Block. The awards program was created to honor communicators who share in Foster’s vision. Funds raised from the event support innovative research and educational programs by the Page Center.

Last Updated February 25, 2019