Culver Academies recognized “Frank Batten Day” on Thursday, Sept. 17, to honor the anniversary of the passing of one of Culver’s most distinguished graduates. To commemorate the solemn occasion, the Culver flag is flown at half-staff for 24 hours and the CMA Corps of Cadets dedicates its retreat ceremony to his memory.
Capt. Mike Neller, Commandant of Cadets, was joined on the reviewing line by several Culver Legion board members. The board and Culver Clubs International are hosting a special weekend for volunteers.
According to the proclamation read by Suraag Srinivas ’16 (Clemsford, Mass.) during the ceremony, Frank Batten Sr., Class of 1945, is one of Culver’s great benefactors. Batten was a “vibrant and productive man who was viewed as the very embodiment of servant-leadership by any community or organization in which he served.”
Batten “was viewed as the very embodiment of servant-leadership by any community or organization in which he served.”
His association with Culver continued throughout his life. The proclamation added that “he sponsored and helped design the Batten Scholars Program, the Batten Fellows Program, the Batten Teaching and Learning Initiative, and the Batten Leadership Challenge, which, in aggregate, constitute one of the most remarkable instances of individual generosity and philanthropy in the history of secondary education.”
Batten was a communications entrepreneur who made his mark as a newspaper publisher. He was also at the forefront of cable television, developing The Weather Channel in the 1980s. He later sold the channel to NBC Universal and two private equity firms in 2008. He also served as chairman of the board of the Associated Press from 1982-87.
Batten’s flagship newspaper, The Virginian-Pilot, won a Pulitzer Prize for a series of editorials championing desegregation in 1960.
The Culver proclamation added that Batten’s actions and accomplishments “parallel remarkably with our current program of promoting human dignity, regard for the individual, and our Culver Military Academy regimental goals. He gave his time, his creativity, and his resources to help those in whom he believed. He certainly made a difference at Culver.”
Batten attended Culver Naval School in 1940, graduated from CMA in 1945, and was on the staff of Culver Summer Schools & Camps. While a cadet, he earned Gold and Silver A’s, lettered in cross country and track, served as a member of the Honor Guard, and commanded Company C.
The proclamation finishes with “Batten was a prince of a man who was humble and generous as well as entrepreneurial and courageous. He lived by the Culver Code of Conduct, he was a great Culver man who was the personification of the ‘Spirit of Culver,’ and today’s ceremony marks his passing and honors this true hero of Culver.”
Batten passed away on Sept. 10, 2009.