FRED MCFEELY ROGERS

(Biography as published in Commencement Program, 5/96)

Fred McFeely Rogers is the longtime host of the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood television program, a child development expert, an ordained Presbyterian minister and a family advocate. Rogers was born in 1928 in Latrobe, Pa., a small town east of Pittsburgh, where he also was raised.

He attended Rollins College in Florida, where he majored in music composition. After graduation in 1951, he was hired by NBC in New York as an assistant producer. He later worked as floor director on several programs.

In 1953 he moved back to Pittsburgh at the request of WQED, the nation's first community-supported public television station. Rogers developed and began producing several programs there, including The Children's Corner. Some of Rogers' program regulars, including puppets Daniel Striped Tiger and King Friday XIII, began their long lives on the show.

It was during the seven-year run of The Children's Corner that Rogers began studying child development and attending the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in his spare time. He was ordained by the Pittsburgh Presbytery in 1962 with a charge to continue his work with children and families through the media.

Rogers first appeared on camera in 1963, when he was hired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to create a 15-minute children's series entitled MISTEROGERS.

In 1964 Rogers returned to Pittsburgh, where his show evolved into the half-hour Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Rogers uses his own observations and training along with consultations with experts to write Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, the longest running show on public television.

The program reaches almost eight million households and child-care settings each week. There are nearly 700 episodes in the series, and Rogers continues to write and produce several weeks of new programs each season.

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood is a slow-moving, quiet program aimed at teaching children to fmd within themselves the courage to grow.

Rogers' work has earned two George Foster Peabody Awards and several Emmys.

Rogers is president of Family Communications Inc., the nonprofit organization he founded in 1971 to produce materials that encourage the healthy emotional growth of children and their families. He has received honorary degrees from more than 30 colleges and universities, including Yale, Carnegie Mellon and Boston universities and his alma mater, Rollins College.

Rogers and his wife, Joanne Byrd Rogers, have two married sons and two grandsons.