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Thiel College remembers Mister Rogers

| Friday, March 23, 2018, 1:12 p.m.
Fred Rogers wife, Mrs. Joanne Rogers, right, visits with Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris in front of a giant Mister Rogers Forever Stamp following the first-day-of-issue dedication in WQED's Fred Rogers Studio in Pittsburgh, Friday, March 23, 2018.
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
Fred Rogers wife, Mrs. Joanne Rogers, right, visits with Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris in front of a giant Mister Rogers Forever Stamp following the first-day-of-issue dedication in WQED's Fred Rogers Studio in Pittsburgh, Friday, March 23, 2018.

As the U.S. Postal Service launched its Mister Rogers forever stamp on Friday, officials at Thiel College, a small liberal arts school 80 miles north of Pittsburgh, celebrated their own special connection to the late children's television star.

Thiel officials said the college, which awarded Rogers an honorary degree in 1969, was the first of more than 40 colleges and universities to honor the beloved children's television figure.

Thiel recognized Rogers at Honors Convocation in November 1969, about a year and a half into the Mister Rogers Neighborhood show's 32-year run.

"It is a point of great pride that Thiel College was the first institution to recognize Fred Rogers as a visionary educator," President Susan Traverso said. "I am sure it would be no surprise to the folks who championed his selection 48 years ago that Mr. Rogers remains an icon and a consistent reminder of the benefits of a message of love, tolerance and understanding. It is equally gratifying that our college connects our students to a scholarship that bears Fred Rogers' name.

"Every year, Fred Rogers' impact on the world grows exponentially as the students receiving his scholarship stretch their horizons," she said.

Along with the dedication of a commemorative stamp by the U.S. Postal Service, Fred Rogers has returned to the forefront of the national dialogue with the 50th anniversary his television show, "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," and the celebration what would have been his 90th birthday this week. A documentary about Rogers releases this summer and two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks will star in an upcoming Rogers biopic.

Debra Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.

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