Canisius Confers President's Medal Upon Elaine Sciolino '70, HON '92

November 30, 2015

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BUFFALO, NY – Canisius President John J. Hurley conferred the college's President’s Medal upon New York Times writer and author Elaine Sciolino ’70, HON ’92 on Tuesday, December 1, when she visited campus to publicize the release of her new book, The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs

The Canisius College President’s Medal bears the phrase ‘For God and Country,’ and is bestowed only periodically to individuals who have distinguished themselves in public life through service to God and community. Since 1955, the college has conferred the President’s Medal only 45 times. Past recipients include Seymour Knox Jr., philanthropist; the Honorable Charles S. Desmond ’17, chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals; Lech Walesa, the former president of Poland; Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, the first American-born theologian who was not a bishop to be appointed a Cardinal and humanitarian Paul Farmer, MD, PhD. Elaine Sciolino is now the 46th recipient of the Canisius College President’s Medal.

“It is my honor to present Elaine with this prestigious recognition from Canisius as part of our celebration of the place of women at Canisius,” said President Hurley in conferring the medal.  “Throughout her illustrious career as journalist and author on a world stage, she has upheld the highest ideals of Canisius and she remains an outstanding exemplar of what it means to serve God through her service to humanity.  Elaine’s commitment to excellence and her efforts to deepen our understanding of the human condition in a global society has and will continue to inspire generations of Canisius students.” 

Click here to view the video from the conferral of the President's Medal. 

A 1970 alumna of Canisius, Sciolino is a writer and former Paris Bureau Chief for The New York Times and has been based in France since 2002. She joined The New York Times in 1984 and has since served as bureau chief to the United Nations and a correspondent for the Central Intelligence Agency. Sciolino also served as The New York Times’ European investigative correspondent, responsible for coverage of terrorism in Europe and Iran’s nuclear program.

Sciolino began her journalism career as a researcher at Newsweek magazine. She later became a national correspondent in Chicago, a foreign correspondent in Paris, bureau chief in Rome and eventually a roving international correspondent.

During her tenure with both news agencies, Sciolino reported on some of the world’s most historic events including the Iranian Revolution. She was the first American – and the first woman – ever to interview the Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of the Iranian Revolution. Sciolino also covered the hostage crisis in Iran, the Iran-Iraq War and the rise of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.

Sciolino was there when U.S. troops invaded the island of Grenada in 1983 and overthrew its turbulent Marxist government, which posed a potential threat to nearly 1,000 American medical school students studying there. She reported on the suicide truck bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. With more than 200 Marines killed, the attack was one of the deadliest against U.S. Marines since the Battle of Iwo Jima. Her extensive reporting on Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and the Persian Gulf crisis is scrupulously chronicled in Sciolino’s first book, The Outlaw State. 

For her outstanding contributions to international affairs, Sciolino received the Distinguished Public Service Award from the U.S. Secretary of State’s Open Forum Program, which also presented her with its Excellence in Journalism Award, in recognition of Sciolino’s outstanding contributions to international affairs reporting and commentary. In 2010, Sciolino became a decorated chevalier of the Legion of Honor, the highest honor of the French state, for her special contributions to the friendship between France and the United States.

Sciolino is the author of four books. Her most recent, The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs, was released in November 2015, and "is part memoir, part travelogue, and part love letter to the people who live and work on this magical street in Paris.”

Though the street is a mere half-mile long its history dates as far back as 250 AD. 

Sciolino explained “The patron saint of France, Denis, after whom the street is named, was beheaded here.  The ritual of communicating with the dead was codified here.”  It was also on rue des Martyrs that “Ignatius Loyola and his compatriots took their vows before he created the Society of Jesus.”  Sciolino dedicates an entire chapter in her new book to the Jesuit history of the street and her efforts to convince Pope Francis to visit rue des Martyrs. 

Sciolino is also the author of Persian Mirrors: The Elusive Face of Iran, which takes readers into the public and private spaces of Iran to capture the vitality of an often misunderstood society. In La Seduction, Sciolino reveals that seduction is much more than a game to the French but rather the key to understanding France.

Born in Buffalo, NY, Sciolino graduated summa cum laude from Canisius in 1970. She is an inductee of the college’s DiGamma Honor Society and received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1981. Eleven years later, Canisius conferred upon Sciolino an honorary doctorate degree. She holds a master’s degree in European history from New York University.

One of 28 Jesuit colleges in the nation, Canisius is the premier private college in Western New York.