Auburn to honor legendary musical artist Lionel Richie and award-winning journalist Judy Woodruff at the 25th annual International Quality of Life Awards

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The Auburn University College of Human Sciences will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the International Quality of Life Awards on Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, at the United Nations in New York by honoring Lionel Richie, legendary musical artist, record producer and philanthropist, and Judy Woodruff, pioneering broadcast journalist and women’s advocate.

Auburn’s College of Human Sciences launched the International Quality of Life Awards in 1994 to recognize people and partnerships representing all sectors of society that have made significant and lasting contributions to individual, family and community well-being locally and around the world. Included among the list of past laureates and lifetime achievement honorees are: Archbishop Desmond Tutu; former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; Noble Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug; Apple CEO Tim Cook; U.S. Congressman and Civil Rights icon John Lewis and NBA legend Charles Barkley.

Richie, a native of Tuskegee, will receive the 2018 IQLA Lifetime Achievement Award, a special honor reserved for individuals whose character, professional achievements and humanitarian outreach have brought distinguished recognition to Auburn University and/or the state of Alabama and beyond. A winner of four Grammys, an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe, among many others, Richie has sold over 100 million records worldwide, beginning in the late 1960s as a founding member of the widely popular R&B band, the Commodores.

After composing the No. 1 hit song “Lady” for Kenny Rogers and recording the mega hit, “Endless Love,” with Diana Ross, Richie embarked upon a solo career. Immediate success came in 1982 with the debut of his first solo album, “Lionel Richie.” He followed it with “Can’t Slow Down,” a two-time Grammy-winning album featuring the No. 1 hit “All Night Long.” By 1983, Richie had become an international superstar, so famous that he was asked to perform at the closing ceremony of the XXIII Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984.

Richie took a break from his career in the late 1980s to rest and take care of his ailing father before making his return to the studio and stage in the early 1990s. Richie’s more recent albums include “Coming Home” with the hit single “I Call It Love” and “Tuskegee” featuring duets with country music stars such as Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton and Willie Nelson. Currently, Richie is a judge on ABC’s “American Idol.”

In addition to achieving iconic status as one of the greatest musical artists of his generation, Richie is known throughout the industry as being one of the kindest and most philanthropic. He has used his celebrity to support causes related to breast cancer research, HIV/AIDS, human rights, famine and poverty. He is also a generous supporter of the United Negro College Fund. Richie has been recognized for his career achievements and his charitable works as the recipient of the 2016 MusiCares Person of the Year Award and the 2017 inaugural Recording Artists Inspiration Award. Moreover, last December he was among the five distinguished recipients of the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors and, most recently, joined decades of fellow celebrities that have had their imprints ensconced in history in the famous forecourt of the TLC Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.

“As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of IQLA, we are proud to honor and celebrate the achievements of a native son of Alabama who has used his musical genius and compassionate spirit to bring joy and hope to millions of people at home and abroad,” said June Henton, dean of the College of Human Sciences.

Judy Woodruff, the 2018 IQLA Laureate, is the anchor and managing editor of the “PBS NewsHour.” An award-winning journalist and trailblazer for women in broadcast news, Woodruff began her career in 1970 as a reporter for CBS-affiliate WAGA-TV in Atlanta.

Woodruff joined NBC News in 1975 and became known as one of the original “boys on the bus,” covering Jimmy Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign for NBC. The national exposure she gained for her insightful reporting led to her being named NBC White House correspondent in 1977, a position she held until 1982 when she moved to the Today Show to become its Washington correspondent. The next year, she joined the newly-formed “MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour” on PBS as its chief Washington correspondent, and took on the additional role as host of “Frontline” on PBS. In 1993, Woodruff joined CNN as a senior correspondent and anchor of the weekday program “Inside Politics,” a position she held for 12 years, before leaving the world of broadcast journalism in 2005 to teach, write and produce documentaries. During her sabbatical from the daily anchor desk, Woodruff served as a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy and a visiting professor at Duke University’s Terry Sanford School of Public Policy. She also joined Bloomberg Television to host a monthly program, “Conversations with Judy Woodruff.”

Woodruff has received wide acclaim for her extensive work on the documentary “Generation Next: Speak Up. Be Heard,” a multi-platform project in partnership with PBS, NPR, Yahoo! and “USA Today,” which examined the characteristics, values and unique perspectives of the millennial generation. She is also noted for her contributions to the PBS documentary, “Nancy Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime.”

In 2013, a milestone in broadcast journalism for women was achieved when Woodruff and Gwen Ifill were named co-anchors and managing editors of the “PBS NewsHour.” The two remained broadcast partners and close friends until Ifill’s untimely death in 2016, after which Woodruff assumed the role of solo anchor and managing editor.

A trailblazer for women, she is a founding co-chair of the International Women’s Media Foundation which is dedicated to promoting and celebrating women in communications throughout the world. Woodruff serves on the boards of the Freedom Forum, The Duke Endowment, Public Radio International and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, in addition to being a trustee emerita of Duke University, her alma mater, and of the Urban Institute.

Woodruff is the author of “This Is Judy Woodruff at the White House.” Among her many honors, she is the recipient of the Poynter Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism, the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award in Broadcast Journalism/Television, the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism, the Gaylord Prize for Excellence in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Oklahoma, the Al Neuharth/University of South Dakota Award for Excellence in Journalism, the Radcliffe Medal and a Duke University Distinguished Alumni Award.

Acknowledging the critical role a free press contributes to quality of life in a democratic society, Henton remarked, “Judy Woodruff is a standard bearer for intellectual rigor, truthfulness and ethics in writing and reporting the news. She is a trusted source whom we can always look to for a fair and accurate portrayal of events in an increasingly complex and often perplexing world.”

Please visit to learn more about IQLA and to make reservations for the 25th anniversary gala.

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