Auburn celebrates Lionel Richie and Judy Woodruff at 25th annual International Quality of Life Awards

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The College of Human Sciences at Auburn University honored Lionel Richie and Judy Woodruff as exemplary contributors to the well-being of individuals, families and communities around the world at the 25th annual International Quality of Life Awards on Dec. 3 at the United Nations in New York City.

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 demonstrate a strong commitment to empowerment through public policy and educational initiatives to enhance quality of life.

“This evening, we are privileged to honor Judy Woodruff and Lionel Richie,” said Auburn Provost Bill Hardgrave. “Two individuals who have reached the highest pinnacles of success in their respective professions and have chosen their celebrity to champion causes that advance medical research, promote a free press and address issues of poverty and social injustice.”

Co-host of “Live with Kelly and Ryan” and radio personality Ryan Seacrest presented his “American Idol” coworker Richie with the 2018 IQLA Lifetime Achievement Award.

A true music icon and international superstar, Richie was chosen for the Lifetime Achievement Award for his history of professional achievements and far-reaching humanitarian work. Noted for such hits as “Endless Love,” “Lady,” “Dancing on the Ceiling” and the socially impactful, “We Are the World,” co-written with Michael Jackson, the Tuskegee native has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide. Moreover, he is one of only two songwriters in history to have had nine consecutive years of No. 1 records. Richie’s talents as a singer, songwriter and producer have been recognized with the industry’s most prestigious awards including an Oscar, a Golden Globe and four Grammys. He was one of five distinguished recipients of the 2017 Kennedy Center Honors, and most recently, had his handprints and footprints ensconced in cement at the TLC Chinese Theatre IMAX, one of Hollywood’s oldest traditions dedicated to honoring celebrity achievement.

Known throughout the industry as one of the kindest and most philanthropic entertainers, Richie has generously supported, among other causes, those related to breast cancer research, famine and poverty reduction, human rights and HIV/AIDS. He is also a loyal supporter of the United Negro College Fund. In recognition of his good works, Richie’s peers honored him as the 2016 MusiCares Person of the Year and named him the inaugural recipient of the Recording Artists Inspiration Award in 2017.

“It is an honor to be recognized by Auburn University and my fellow Alabamans,” said Richie. “I am so proud to receive this prestigious award and to be included in the incredible company of past IQLA Lifetime Achievement Award recipients.”

Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of “PBS NewsHour,” was recognized as the 2018 IQLA Laureate for her powerful legacy of truthful, ethical reporting and trailblazing for women in the journalism industry. The award was presented by Vernon Jordan, the noted civil rights leader and business executive who was also an advisor to former President Bill Clinton.

Woodruff, who along with the late Gwen Ifill of PBS became the first all-female team to anchor a nightly news broadcast, has also covered politics at NBC and CNN. Her storied career has been replete with numerous awards for journalistic excellence including the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award in Broadcast Journalism/Television, the Poynter Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism and the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism, among others. Some of her most notable work includes her reporting for the PBS documentary “Nancy Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime,” her book, “This is Judy Woodruff at the White House,” and an extensive project highlighting the perspectives of youth in America, “Generation Next: Speak Up. Be Heard,” in conjunction with other prominent news outlets.

A founding co-chair of the International Women’s Media Foundation, Woodruff also serves on the boards of the Freedom Forum, Public Radio International, the Carnegie Corporation and the National Association to End Homelessness. She is a trustee emerita of her alma mater Duke University and a Duke University Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.

“I am humbled to be standing here as the 25th anniversary IQLA Laureate,” said Woodruff. “To be included among the distinguished list of prior IQLA Laureates such as John Lewis, Madeleine Albright and Norman Borlaug is an honor I will never forget.”

Both Richie and Woodruff are powerful role models that embody the College of Human Sciences’ mission. IQLA recipients have gained unrivaled professional success in their respective industries and have contributed greatly to the quality of life of those far beyond the bounds of Alabama. For 25 years, the school has been proud to call attention to these esteemed individuals through IQLA.

“These awards have brought recognition to Auburn University beyond our southern borders and amplified our reputation as a land-, sea- and space-grant institution that is concerned about the world’s grand challenges and is finding sustainable solutions to bring about lasting transformational change at home and abroad,” said Hardgrave.

Students from the College of Human Sciences were also in attendance to serve as ambassadors, as part of the IQLA Study Tour. The program is an educational opportunity for students to explore New York City, preceded by special assignments on campus that prepare them to experience the city in ways that will prove invaluable to their professional development.

“We have been able to talk one-on-one with alumni who are working in our chosen career fields and have also made valuable connections with professionals who believe in and support the College of Human Sciences,” said Maurine Kucera, a junior in apparel merchandising. “The IQLA Study Tour has been an amazing benefit to my undergraduate experience.”

For more information about the International Quality of Life Awards, visit

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