Ann Curry, the NBC journalist, started off her commencement address at Wheaton College Saturday by naming some distinguished alumni: the Rev. Billy Graham, the former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, and the director Wes Craven, among others. Unfortunately for Curry, she was at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, and five of the six people she cited are graduates of Wheaton College in Illinois. The sole graduate Curry named correctly was her fellow newscaster Lesley Stahl. While the two Wheatons share a name and a liberal arts tradition, they are quite different. The Illinois Wheaton is a Christian college, while the Massachusetts Wheaton is not. Until 1988, the Massachusetts Wheaton was a women's college -- so the alumni Curry incorrectly cited couldn't have gone there (at least at the time they were in college).
The Massachusetts Wheaton has a transcript and video of Curry's commencement address online, but they do not include the list of the other college's alumni. Michael Graca, a spokesman, said that he decided against "broadcasting information we knew to be inaccurate." While some of the Twitter criticism of Curry's error suggested that she should return any money she was paid for the address, Graca said she appeared without a fee. Curry sent an e-mail message to students and faculty members Monday noting some of the Wheaton alumni she wishes she had cited and apologizing for the error. "I am mortified by my mistake, and can only hope the purity of my motive, to find a way to connect with the graduates and to encourage them to a life of service, will allow you to forgive me," she wrote.