Elizabeth O. Colton, Ph.D., an Emmy award-winning journalist and diplomat, will give the keynote address at Warren Wilson College’s 2022 Commencement on Saturday, May 7, 2022.
Colton grew up in Asheville and went on to live in 13 countries and work in 120 countries throughout her career as an award-winning diplomat in the Peace Corps, U.N. and U.S. Foreign Service; as a Fulbright Scholar; as an Emmy-winning journalist, reporter, and editor; as a teacher of elementary and secondary schools; and as a professor at the university level.
She earned her Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics. She currently serves as a professor of diplomacy and media for UNITAR (the United Nations Institute for Training and Research) and collaborative international universities’ global online courses. She serves as the board chair of the global Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) RSF-USA/North America with headquarters in Paris, France.
Currently she is serving as diplomat and journalist-in-residence at Warren Wilson College. In that position she provides her time as a professor, scholar, diplomat and communications expert to teach, lecture and mentor students and to promote Warren Wilson College locally, nationally and globally.
During the Commencement speech, Colton will speak to the move out of pandemic education into the next future, and the resilience and perseverance of the graduating students.
“Warren Wilson College students should know, as I believe, that they are especially well prepared to enter and thrive in any new and unimaginable world environment because they, now as graduates, come from this special educational place in which work and study and service are all foundational,” Colton said. “Their unique educational experience at Warren Wilson provides them with a special foundation equipping them to navigate whatever might at first appear new and unimaginable. I will urge them to keep this foundation of the Warren Wilson philosophy always in mind and with them as they move through the great variety and complexities of life.”
Dr. Lynn Morton, president of Warren Wilson College, said the college is honored to have Colton speak at Commencement.
“Liz’s career is impressive and inspirational, and she has been a huge asset to our students while she has served as diplomat and journalist-in-residence here at Warren Wilson,” Morton said. “We’re so fortunate that she will speak at our commencement ceremony, where I know she will deliver a compelling message.”
Colton’s connection to Warren Wilson began when she was young. Her parents brought her to Warren Wilson College for international events, and her family would host international students during the holidays and for big meals.
“Warren Wilson College has always been an inspiration in my own life from childhood. Growing up in nearby Asheville, I knew about Warren Wilson as the unique local college with both American and foreign students, where all students not only studied for a degree but also worked on the campus and became involved in various kinds of service projects,” Colton said. “This idea of work, study and service, the basic philosophy that was always part of the college’s reputation, was inspiring to me as a school child and has served as a foundation in my own life.”