Award-winning TV/Film Producer, Humanities Champion to Receive Honorary Degrees at Lawrence University’s 157th Commencement

Emmy-winning television producer and director Catherine Tatge and accomplished businessman-turned-cultural advocate Richard Franke will be recognized by Lawrence University for their achievements and societal contributions with honorary doctorate degrees Sunday, June 11 at the college’s 157th commencement. Graduation exercises begin at 10:30 a.m. on the Main Hall Green.

Lawrence will award an honorary doctor of fine arts degree to Tatge and an honorary doctor of humane letters to Franke. In addition, 298 seniors from 36 states and 21 foreign countries are expected to receive bachelor of arts and/or music degrees.

A baccalaureate service featuring Tim Spurgin, associate professor and Bonnie Glidden Buchanan Professor of English, will be held Saturday, June 11 at 11 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Both honorary degree recipients, along with President Jill Beck, Lawrence Board of Trustees Chair William Hochkammer, ’66, and student representative Jeni Houser, a senior from Stoughton., will address the graduates during commencement. Both the baccalaureate service and commencement ceremony are free and open to the public.

A 1972 graduate of Lawrence, Tatge has compiled an expansive body of work, producing or directing more than 50 films, television programs and series encompassing genres from public affairs and cultural performances to biographies and documentaries.

As co-founder of New York City-based Tatge/Lasseur Productions, Inc., Tatge has earned a reputation as a leader in arts filmmaking for bringing innovative, intellectual material to the screen, including works on creative genius, spiritual matters and the human condition. She has produced programming for the PBS series “American Masters,” Great Performances” and “Alive TV.”

Tatge has collaborated extensively with noted television journalist Bill Moyers, including the seminal PBS series “Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth with Bill Moyers.” Tatge earned an Emmy award in 1988 for her work.served as producer and director of the six-episode series.

She also has worked with Moyers on nearly a dozen other projects over the years, including the hate trilogy “Beyond Hate,” Facing Hate with Elie Wiesel” and “Hate on Trial,” and the 1996 public television series “Genesis: A Living Conversation.” In 2004, she explored the contrasting world views of C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud in the four-part PBS series “The Question of God.”

Playwright Tennessee Williams, dancer/choreographer Martha Graham, West Indian poet Derek Walcott, opera star Barbara Hendricks and famed Hollywood filmmaker William Wyler are among the numerous figures Tatge has profiled in documentary films.

Her current projects include “Breaking the Silence: Children’s Stories” which examines the effects of domestic violence on children, “Small Wonders,” a series on the future of nanotechnology and “The History and Future of Democracy,” a four-part series hosted by author and Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria.

She is a member of both the Director’s Guild of America and the Writer’s Guild of America.

Franke enjoyed a 40-year career as an investment banker for the Chicago firm John Nuveen & Co., retiring in 1996 as the firm’s chairman and CEO.

First as Nuveen’s president and later as its CEO, Franke established himself as a friend of higher education and a champion for the humanities, often incorporating the arts into the life of the company. While serving on several cultural boards, including those of the Lyric Opera, Shakespeare Theatre and Chicago Symphony, he embarked on his most ambitious project in 1989, creating the Chicago Humanities Festival, a city wide event designed to “celebrate the powers of ideas in human culture.”

The first festival, held in November, 1990 was a one-day event with eight programs. Under Franke’s leadership and drive as chair of the board of directors, the festival has since grown into the world’s largest celebration of the humanities, covering two full weeks in early November and attracting scores of the world’s foremost scholars, authors, playwrights, historians, artists and performers who offer presentations based around a single theme of universal appeal. This fall’s 17th festival, Oct. 28-Nov. 12, will offer 125 programs on the theme “PEACE and WAR: Facing Human Conflict.”

In recognition of his efforts in raising awareness of the ways the humanities enrich daily life, Franke was honored in 1997 by President Clinton as one of 10 recipients of the nation’s first National Humanities Medal. That same year, Franke was named chairman of the National Trust for the Humanities. Since 1996, he has served as an elected member of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In addition to establishing the Chicago Humanities Festival, Franke created the Richard J. Franke Fellows in the Humanities program in the mid-1980s at Yale University, which supports 30 graduate students. In 1990, he also established the Franke Institute for the Humanities at the University of Chicago to foster and promote advanced research in the humanities.
In 2005, Franke added author to his resume, chronicling his grandparents’ journey from Berlin, Germany to Springfield, Ill., and their struggle to build a new life in late 19th-century America in the biographical book, “Cut from Whole Cloth: An Immigrant Experience.”

Franke earned a bachelor’s degree at Yale University and his MBA from Harvard Business School. He has previously received honorary degrees from Yale and DePaul University.