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BISMARCK – Journalists Bob Schieffer and Dan Rather are coming to North Dakota to honor a Velva native deemed “one of the country’s most respected reporters and commentators” by The New York Times.

“Not So Wild a Dream: The Legacy of Eric Sevareid,” a public humanities symposium, will run from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3 at Bismarck State College.

Various speakers will give presentations during the day about journalism, history and Sevareid’s career. Schieffer, Rather and Nick Clooney are keynote speakers in the evenings at Bismarck’s Belle Mehus Auditorium, 201 N. 6th St.

Sevareid worked for CBS News from 1939 to 1977, covering major world events and later serving as a regular commentator on “CBS Eve­ning News” with Walter Cronkite. He died in 1992.

The idea for the symposium came from Brenna Daugherty, executive director of the North Dakota Humanities Council.

After moving back to North Dakota from the East Coast, Daugherty was trying to immerse herself in North Dakota culture.

She picked up a copy of “Not So Wild a Dream,” one of Sevareid’s books, and “was just blown away by it.” After further researching Sevareid and his role in American history, she decided there should be an event in his honor.

“We’re looking at – in 2012 – the 100th anniversary of his birth,” Daugherty said. “I thought this would be a perfect time to revisit Eric and to celebrate Eric.”

Sevareid’s widow, Suzanne St. Pierre, said she’s looking forward to attending the event.

“I am so pleased and honored by it,” said St. Pierre, who now lives in Massachusetts. “Eric would have been just somewhat incredulous to be remembered after all of these years.”

She said her husband loved Velva and was grateful for the values he acquired living there. She’s looking forward to what all of the speakers will share at the symposium.

“I think I’m going to learn some things while I’m there as well,” she said.

Sevareid was born in Velva in 1912. He and his family moved to Minnesota in 1925 after tough financial times. He attended the University of Minnesota and then worked as a reporter for the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune.

In 1939, Edward R. Murrow recruited Sevareid to join CBS, where he worked for the next 38 years covering World War II, Joseph McCarthy, Adlai Stevenson, presidential elections and other key moments in history.

His nightly news commentary made him “an in-house wise man and gray eminence of CBS News, and a voice of reason, orthodoxy and enlightened common sense,” The Washington Post wrote after his death.

During the symposium, National Press Club President Alan Bjerga will discuss Sevareid’s relevance for younger journalists working in traditional and newer forms of media today.

The symposium is “a really exciting opportunity to examine the legacy of a North Dakota journalist who made such an impact in the world,” said Bjerga, who graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead.

“Just the quality of the speakers that they have and the folks that are coming out – it’s a real tribute to Eric Sevareid and just the feelings that people still have so many years later about what a giant figure he was in American journalism,” Bjerga said.

  • What: “Not So Wild a Dream: The Legacy of Eric Sevareid” symposium  When: Registration opens at 11 a.m. Sept. 30. A 12:30 p.m. welcome is followed by speakers throughout the day. The event goes through Oct. 3. 
  •  Where: Bismarck State College Sidney J. Lee Auditorium. However, all of the keynote addresses are at Belle Mehus Auditorium, 201 N. 6th St. – Bob Schieffer Sept. 30, Nick Clooney Oct. 1 and Dan Rather Oct. 2. All of the keynotes are at 7 p.m. On Oct. 3, buses leave at 8:30 a.m. from BSC for an all-day field trip to Sevareid’s hometown of Velva.
  •  Other: The event presentations are free and open to the public. Lunches are available for $15 each. The Sunday field trip costs $25. For a full schedule of events and to register by Sept. 23, visit www.sevareidlegacy.com. You may also call (877) 462-8535 and say you’d like to register for the symposium.
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