Sept. 28, 2016
Saint Vincent College School of Humanities and Fine Arts and its Charles G. and Anita L. Manoli Scholarship Committee will present a lecture by early childhood educator William H. Isler, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, at the Fred M. Rogers Center on the campus of Saint Vincent. The talk is entitled, “50 Years of the Neighborhood: Reflections on My Work with Fred Rogers.” Admission is free and open to the public but advance reservations are requested.
Isler, who helped bring to life loveable characters such as Daniel Tiger, worked with Fred Rogers and served as president and CEO of The Fred Rogers Company from 1987 until his retirement in 2016.
He worked on the iconic MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD and led The Fred Rogers Company in extending Fred Rogers’ values and approach through new initiatives. Under Isler’s leadership, The Fred Rogers Company produced three PBS KIDS hit series: DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD, PEG + CAT and ODD SQUAD, which have garnered 17 Daytime Emmy awards to date.
A native of Pittsburgh, Isler was president of his class and graduated from Saint Vincent College with a bachelor of arts degree in English before pursuing graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh.
After military service during the Vietnam era, he chose to be an educator and began his career as an elementary school teacher, daycare teacher and as an administrator of a multi-service program for children. Subsequently, he joined the Pennsylvania Department of Education as an executive assistant to the secretary of education, as commissioner of basic education and senior program adviser for early childhood education. He became president of Family Communications, Inc., the producers of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood in 1984.
Isler has been a dedicated servant to many dimensions of the Pittsburgh educational community. A former member and president of the board of directors of the Pittsburgh Public Schools, he also served on the boards of Saint Vincent College, Family Health Council of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Beginning with Books, the Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, the Roberto Clemente Foundation, the American Academy of Pediatrics Partnership for Children, the Grable Foundation, The Forbes Fund, the Fred Rogers Company and Steeltown Entertainment. He is the co-chair of the Governor’s Early Learning Council.
With a long history of active involvement in Saint Vincent alumni affairs, Isler has been one of the class leaders who developed the Fr. Ronald R. Gorka/Class of 1968 Scholarship and part of a group that set up a mechanism to keep the scholarship going. A frequent public speaker, he is always proud to remind his listeners that he is a graduate of Saint Vincent College and readily acknowledges all of the ways he has benefited from his undergraduate education. He was awarded the Saint Vincent College Presidential Medal of Honor in 2004.
In addition to his leadership role at The Fred Rogers Company, he was executive director of The Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College.
In 2016 he was recognized with the PBS “Be More” Award, an annual tribute that celebrates individuals who embody the spirit of helping all Americans to discover more, to experience more and to “Be More.” Isler and his wife, Martha, are the parents of an adult son.
The late Charles G. Manoli Sr., Saint Vincent College emeritus professor of history, taught at Saint Vincent for more than 40 years, was a graduate of Saint Vincent Preparatory School (class of 1945) and Saint Vincent College (class of 1951) and was honored by the college with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree in 2005. He died after a brief illness on Aug. 13, 2016, at the age of 89.
Reservations for the lecture are requested by phoning Marsha Kush at the Humanities and Fine Arts School, 724-805-2814 or firstname.lastname@example.org by Oct. 19.
Photo: William H. Isler
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