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Philanthropist tells St. Vincent grads to 'be like Mister Rogers'

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Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, 6:18 p.m.

A Pittsburgh philanthropist and children's advocate told 107 St. Vincent College graduates on Saturday at commencement ceremonies on campus that they should never lose their curiosity that was nurtured at the school.

“Indeed, it's that trust in you and this college — as faithful, serving and curious lifelong learners — that surely attracted Fred Rogers to this campus,” said Gregg Behr, who wants to turn Pittsburgh into Kidsburgh.

The college in Unity conferred degrees on 51 undergraduates and 56 graduates who had completed their graduation requirements in August or December.

Behr, who was given an honorary doctor of humane letters degree, is the executive director of The Grable Foundation. The foundation's support has helped advance the mission of the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media at St. Vincent College.

Behr envisions developing Kidsburgh, an all-out effort by a large and collaborative group in Pittsburgh, to make the city the best place for children. He started Kids+Creativity, which has long been a resource for Pittsburghers whose work is at the intersection of technology, learning and play.

Kidsburgh conveys the sense that Pittsburgh is committed to improving the lives of children by promising all of them brilliant futures, Behr said.

The one image that conveys Kidsburgh beautifully is the statue of Fred Rogers seated by the Allegheny River keeping watch over Pittsburgh “in his neighborhood after all,” Behr said.

Behr asked the graduates to be like Mister Rogers, who grew up in Latrobe and came to fame through his public television program for children.

“You don't have to be Mister Rogers. The world doesn't need heroes. Rather, what this world needs most is more people with the good stuff. People willing to be like Mister Rogers every day. Everyday Freds,” Behr said.

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