Maxwell King Is Pitt’s Honors Convocation Speaker

Issue Date: 
February 4, 2008

32nd annual event to be held Feb. 29 at Carnegie Music Hall

080204king.jpgMaxwell King, who served as president of The Heinz Endowments from 1999 to Jan. 15, 2008, will be the keynote speaker at the University of Pittsburgh’s 32nd annual Honors Convocation on Feb. 29.

The event will be held at 2 p.m. in Carnegie Music Hall. King’s address is titled “Hard Times on Planet Earth: How Human Ingenuity Has Gotten Us in Trouble With the Natural World and How It Can Help Us Build a Model of Stewardship for the Future.”

Prior to his address, King will have an honorary doctoral degree conferred upon him by Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, who will preside over the event, which recognizes undergraduate, graduate, and professional student academic achievement; student leadership; and faculty accomplishments.

During King’s tenure, the Endowments awarded about $500 million in grants to projects, organizations, and initiatives, most of them in Western Pennsylvania. His tenure was marked by strong leadership on environmental issues and in advocating for more economic opportunities for the disadvantaged—especially for women and underrepresented groups that have had limited access to the most influential positions in regional life. Other areas in which he made significant contributions were in the promotion of literacy, civic design, early childhood education, and academic reform in the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

King served on the executive committee of the Riverlife Task Force, which has for the first time in Pittsburgh’s history set development standards and underwritten signature projects along the city’s three rivers. He led a collaboration with two other foundations that suspended funding for the Pittsburgh Public Schools, spurring creation of a community-reform process that would improve governance and management and lead to an academic reform plan.

King is board chair of the national Council on Foundations and past chair of the council’s Ethics and Practices Committee. Locally, he has served on the Committee to Enhance Efficiency and Effectiveness of County and City Government, the Mayor’s Commission on Public Education, the Pittsburgh Public Service Fund Board, the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics Board of Fellows, and the board of the Senator John Heinz History Center. He also has been a board member of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse.

King is the recipient of the inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award, presented by the Coro Fellows Program for young professionals, and the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics’ Coleman Award, presented for excellence in leadership service to Western Pennsylvania.

From 1990 to 1998, King was editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer. He served as chair of the Values and Ethics Committee of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and is a founding member of the Committee of Concerned Journalists.

King received his Bachelor of Arts cum laude from Harvard University in 1967, and he attended the Stanford Executive Program at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

As just-retired president, King will serve in an advisory role at the foundation through May. Robert F. Vagt, formerly president of Davidson College in North Carolina, succeeded him on Jan. 15.