1997 Honorary Member
A native of Independence, Kansas, Bill Kurtis graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.S. in journalism and in 1966 received his J.D. from Washburn University School of Law and was admitted to the Kansas Bar. He chose, however, to pursue a career in journalism and went to Chicago as a news reporter for WBBM-TV, then a correspondent for CBS News in Los Angeles. In 1973, he returned to Chicago as a reporter and anchorman for WBBM-TV News, from 1982-1985 was co-anchor of the CBS Morning News in New York, and in 1985 again returned to Chicago and WBBM-TV. Since then, in addition to his duties as anchorman for WBBM-TV News, he has created a singular presence in television documentaries. On cable televisions Arts & Entertainment Network, Bill Kurtis is executive producer and host of two acclaimed hour-long series: American Justice, an acclaimed historical documentary series about criminal justice, and the Emmy and CableACE Award-winning Investigative Reports. On PBS stations nationwide, he is the executive producer and host of the award-winning science documentary series The New Explorers with Bill Kurtis, which highlights the exciting role of scientists pursuing the never-ending adventures of discovery. Over its first seven years, The New Explorers has won numerous awards, including the George Foster Peabody Award, the National Education Association (NEA) Award for the Advancement of Learning Through Broadcasting, and the Westinghouse-AAAS Award for Television. In addition, Kurtis shares a unique partnership with many organizations in creating a new approach to teaching science in the classroom: The National Science Explorers Program is one of the top science teaching initiatives in the country and has been in use in the Chicago Public Schools since 1991. Kurtis is the recipient of many awards for excellence in journalism, including the Peter Lisagor Award for Public Service from the Society of Professional Journalists and over 20 Emmy Awards from the Chicago Chapter of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Kurtis is the twenty-second Honorary Member of Sigma Xi, elected by the Board of Directors for his services to science.