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ACU honors Pulitzer Prize winner David Leeson with top alumni award

For immediate release
Feb. 15, 2005

David Leeson, class of 1978, has been named Outstanding Alumnus of the Year by Abilene Christian University and will be honored at ACU's Alumni Day Luncheon sponsored by the Abilene Reporter-News and the Dallas Morning News Sunday, Feb. 20 at 12:15 p.m. at the Abilene Civic Center. 

Tickets are $15 and are available in advance, and a limited number will be sold at the door.  For more information or to purchase tickets call 325-674-2622.

Leeson has most recently been in the national eye for winning the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for his breaking news photography during the 2003 Iraq war. 

"David was one of those people who went beyond the expected," said John Best, Leeson’s first editor at the Abilene Reporter-News and general manager of KACU and adjunct professor of journalism and mass communication.  "He has the innate ability to look through a lens – a 24x36mm frame – and see the shape of things as well as the content, and then translate that to an image that communicates."

He had been a Pulitzer finalist in 1986, 1990 and 1995 during his career.  In addition to still photography, Leeson has an acclaimed documentary film, "Dust to Dust" about the war in Iraq and has recently been developing ways for newspaper, TV and Web technologies to converge in the newsroom.

A native of Abilene, Leeson received his undergraduate degree in journalism and mass communication and then worked as a staff photographer for the Abilene-Reporter News until 1982.  For two years, he worked in New Orleans for The Times-Picayune/The States-Item and in 1984 he began work for the Dallas Morning News where he is currently a photojournalist.

His assignments have included coverage of the FDN "Freedom Fighters" in their war against the former Marxist Sandinista government in Nicaragua, El Salvador presidential elections (1984 and 1988), civil unrest in Panama (1988) and Peru (1989), Colombian drug wars (1989), and two months spent in 1985 covering the apartheid in South Africa. 

Leeson also lived on the streets of Dallas chronicling the lives of the homeless, a project for which he earned the Robert F. Kennedy Award for distinguished reporting on the lives of the disadvantaged. 

"I tell people all the time:  It's a wonderful thing to be 47 years old and be able to say, 'I was used by God.  It was not what I wanted to do but what He wanted to do,'" Leeson said.  "And don’t think for a minute that a Christian education doesn’t help establish that fundamental concept in your life."

The Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Award is ACU's highest alumni honor and is given for lifetime achievement.

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