Robert Harden Reid III '69
The Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes alumni who have provided leadership or attained recognition on a national or regional level within their profession or business, or who have provided extraordinary service to their community. Robert Harden Reid III has met every one of these criteria during his exceptional forty year career as a correspondent with the Associated Press.
In his application to Davidson, Bob Reid insisted that he wanted to become a lawyer, noting that his interest in research and his admiration for the workings of justice had equipped him to face the road to his dream. While Bob’s work still requires research, and certainly a grasp of the importance of justice, his road has taken him far from the courthouse in his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina.
Bob’s association with the AP began in the spring of 1969, when he worked as the “night-rewrite guy” while continuing his college coursework during the day. At Davidson, he majored in history, served as president of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, and honed his writing style as the managing editor of the Davidsonian. In addition, Bob served as a member of the 1969 championship College Bowl team. In 1968, as a harbinger of journalistic excellence to come, his published interview with three of Davidson’s five black students won first place in the College Press Awards Competition which was sponsored by the Charlotte Observer and the Charlotte News.
Reporting history as it happens is nothing new for Bob. He has covered many of the most pivotal moments of the past forty years, including the Iranian revolution, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the birth of Solidarity in Poland, the civil war in Lebanon, the Iran-Iraq war, war in the Balkans, military coups in The Philippines, the U.N. mission to Cambodia, the funeral of Indira Gandhi, John Paul II’s return to Poland as Pope, the U.S. overthrow of the Afghan Taliban in 2001, and the current war in Iraq. In 1995, he chronicled the administration of Filipino president Corazon Aquino and the struggle to build democracy in The Philippines. In 2005, he was presented the AP Gramling Award for journalism excellence. In 2008, he was assigned to Baghdad as the Associated Press bureau chief, where he currently oversees a large staff of AP and Iraqi correspondents producing and distributing news through a variety of media. Despite the myriad challenges of reporting from environments fraught with danger, Bob has retained his zest for the story and his faith in the power of the press to inform and educate.
Because he continues to provide relevance and meaning to conflicts that so many of us would otherwise not understand and sometimes would rather ignore; because he continues the tradition of leadership and service to the greater community illustrated by his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, all Davidson men; because the road to his dream has taken him to airport tarmacs, dusty tracks, and bombed out barracks; and because he has made Davidson College proud to call him one of her own, the Davidson College Alumni Association honors Robert Harden Reid III with the Distinguished Alumni Award on the occasion of his 40th Reunion, this 25th day of April, 2009.