Charles E. Shepard – 1972 Scholar

The Presidential Scholars program seeks out and rewards academic rigor, and journalist Charles Shepard was honored for this as Connecticut’s Scholar in 1972. As a reporter for The Charlotte Observer, Shepard tirelessly investigated and reported on televangelist Jim Bakker’s misuse of funds and deceptive practices, even as the PTL television ministry sought to discredit his work and pressure his newspaper to remain silent. As a result of Shepard’s reporting, Bakker and three associates were imprisoned for fraud, and in 1988 the Observer was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service. The next year Shepard published “Forgiven: The Rise and Fall of Jim Bakker and the PTL Ministry,” a biography of Bakker.