CPB Media Room

WETA's Elizabeth Pfohl Campbell Awarded Public Television's Highest Recognition

  • April 14, 1997

Washington, D.C., April 14 -- The Corporation for Public Broadcasting today awarded Elizabeth Pfohl Campbell the 1996 Ralph Lowell Award, public televisions highest honor.

Campbell was honored for her more than 40 years of extraordinary leadership of WETA , as the stations founder, past president and current vice president for community affairs.

Richard W. Carlson, President and CEO of the Corporation, presented the honor, which recognizes individual special achievement, during a special award luncheon at the public television spring conference here.

"Elizabeth Campbell has graced the public broadcasting industry with her vision, her unique commitment and her indefatigable spirit," said Carlson. "Shes devoted a lifetime to education and to serving her community through public television. It is highly fitting that the Lowell, named after a broadcasting pioneer, is awarded to Mrs. Campbell, who created and led WETA to its vibrant present."

Campbell served as WETAs president for its first 14 years. In 1971, she stepped down from the presidency to become the stations vice president for community affairs, a position she holds today. Her public service has accorded her many honors, including Washingtonian of the Year in 1978 and a citation in 1989 from the Commonwealth of Virginia General Assembly "for her long, untiring and productive effort to improve the quality of education and the accessibility of quality public broadcasting in the Commonwealth."

"While other women of her generation were content to take more traditional routes, Elizabeth Campbell embraced public life, first as an advocate for public education, and later as a visionary force behind the establishment of WETA," said Sharon Percy Rockefeller, WETA President and CEO. "Today, thanks to her steadfast commitment, vision and hard work, it is the flagship station of public broadcasting."

The mother of four children, Campbell was elected to the Arlington School Board in 1948, the first woman to be elected to a school board in Virginia. She served 12 years on the School Board, three of them as chairman. During this period, she joined her husband, Edmund Douglas Campbell, in fighting for desegregation of Virginias public schools. Campbell is a graduate of Salem College in her native North Carolina and has a Masters degree from Columbia University.

"I am honored to be included among the recipients of the Lowell Award," said Campbell. "The name recalls the memory of that important day in 1967 when, at the suggestion of the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television, the name Educational Television was changed to Public Broadcasting. It was Ralph Lowell who was instrumental in making this change possible. On that day public radio joined with television to provide education and cultural enrichment to thousands of citizens. The future is before us."

The annual Lowell Award honors Ralph Lowell, a philanthropist and banker who was instrumental in the formation of the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television, which led to the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 and to the creation of CPB. Lowell served as the first president of the WGBH Educational Foundation from 1951 until he became chairman in the mid-1970s.

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