BOSTON--When “Today” show news anchor Ann Curry delivered the commencement speech at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, she named a list of distinguished alumni, including the Rev. Billy Graham, Wes Craven and Dennis Hastert.
The problem is the evangelist, the horror movie director and the former U.S. House Speaker all attended the Wheaton College in Illinois, not the one in Massachusetts.
The NBC newswoman on Monday sent an apology letter to Massachusetts school’s president, Ron Crutcher, and the college community.
“I am mortified by my mistake,” she wrote, “and can only hope the purity of my motive, to find a way to connect with the graduates and encourage them to a life of service, will allow you to forgive me.”
College spokesman Michael Graca said Tuesday the apology was accepted.
“We thought it was heartfelt and genuine,” he said.
The 405 graduates and school administrators knew something was amiss Saturday as soon as Curry reeled off the erroneous names, “but then the moment was over and we moved on,” Graca said. He noted that Curry received a standing ovation at the conclusion of her address.
The error has caused a buzz on the Illinois school’s campus as well.
“People have gotten a bit of a chuckle out of it, but these things happen, and we’re certainly not offended,” said LaTonya Taylor, spokeswoman at the Illinois college.
It’s not the first time someone has confused the schools and probably won’t be the last, they both said. “It’s just never happened in such a public setting,” Graca said.
It would have been impossible for Graham, Hastert and Craven to attend the school in Norton, Mass., about 30 miles south of Boston. It was founded in 1834 as a women’s college and did not start educating men until 1988. It has about 1,500 students.
The suburban Chicago school, founded as a co-educational institution in 1860, adheres to Christian values and has about 2,500 undergraduates.
In her apology letter, Curry noted that the Massachusetts school has its own notable alumnae, including “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl, Oscar-nominated actress Catherine Keener and former EPA Director Christie Todd Whitman.
But she may find herself making another apology. She spelled Stahl’s name, “Leslie.”