Ralph J. Roberts, W'41, Hon'05
2009 Joseph Wharton Award for Lifetime Achievement
Ralph J. Roberts, W'41, Hon'05|
Founder and Chairman Emeritus
Starting with the purchase of a single cable television system in Tupelo, Mississippi, in l963, Ralph J. Roberts went on to create the largest cable television company in the United States. Comcast Corporation is principally involved in the development, management and operation of broadband cable networks and in the provision of programming content. The Company is the largest cable company in the United States, serving more than 24.2 million cable subscribers, 14.9 million high-speed internet customers, and 6.5 million Comcast Digital Voice customers. Comcast's content networks and investments include E! Entertainment Television, Style Network, The Golf Channel, VERSUS, G4, PBS KIDS Sprout, TV One and ten sports networks operated by Comcast Sports Group and Comcast Interactive Media, which develops and operates Comcast's Internet businesses, including Comcast.net (www.comcast.net). The Company also has a majority ownership in Comcast-Spectacor, whose major holdings include the Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey team, the Philadelphia 76ers NBA basketball team and two large multipurpose arenas in Philadelphia.
Today Mr. Roberts, is Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Company's Board of Directors. Mr. Roberts previously served as a Director and Chair of the Executive and Finance Committee of the Comcast board of Directors from 2002 to 2008, and prior to that, Mr. Roberts served as Chairman of the Board and Director.
During the Fifties, Mr. Roberts was Executive Vice President and Director of Advertising, and later President and CEO of Pioneer Industries, a leading men's accessories company. Earlier, he was Vice President with Muzak Corporation and an account executive with Aitken Kynett Advertising Agency.
Mr. Roberts graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and served a four-year tour of duty in the U.S. Navy. He also participated in continuing education programs at Harvard Business School.
A native of Philadelphia, Mr. Roberts, 89 is involved in numerous community and civic activities. He currently serves on the boards of Penn Medicine Board of Trustees, University of Pennsylvania Health System, the Council of Emeritus Directors of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Brandywine Museum and Conservancy. He served on the boards of Philadelphia Electric Company and CoreStates Financial Corporation, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Advisory Board of the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, national and regional boards of the National Conference for Community and Justice (formerly National Conference of Christians and Jews), the Philadelphia Orchestra, and as a Trustee of the Albert Einstein Medical Center. He is also a Charter Member of the World Business Council.
He also served as Vice President of Family Service of Philadelphia (United Way), as a Board Member of the State College and University Directors, on the Re-regulation and Legislative Affairs Committee of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, as a member of the Governor's Review of Government Management Committee, as a member of the Young Presidents Organization, on the Board of the Philadelphia Company Repertory Theater Group, and as a member of the University of Pennsylvania Mentor Program and Benjamin Franklin Associates.
His entrepreneurial and humanitarian endeavors have brought him many awards including the Distinguished Vanguard Award for Leadership from the National Cable and Telecommunications Association; induction in the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame; the Cable Television Hall of Fame Award; and the Walter Kaitz Foundation Award for contributing to the cable industry's diversity efforts. He received the Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award; the Acres of Diamonds Entrepreneurial Excellence Award from Temple University; the University of Pennsylvania's Joseph P. Wharton Award, and the conferral of an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Pennsylvania, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Holy Family College, and an honorary Doctor of Humanities from Arcadia University.
He was honored by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith with its Americanism Award and by the national Conference of Christians and Jews with its Brotherhood Award. He has also received Philadelphia's Edward Powell Award given to the individual whose efforts most benefit the prosperity of the city of Philadelphia; the Police Athletic League Award; the Urban League of Philadelphia's Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award for leadership, Diversity and Excellence; Operation Understanding's Distinguished Community Leadership Award for improving relations among the diverse people who make up the City of Philadelphia; the Heroes of Liberty Award; the William Penn Award given by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce; the American Horizon for visionary leadership from the Media Institute in Washington, DC; the Trustees Award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences; the Steven J. Ross Humanitarian Award given by the UJA Federation; the Musser Excellence in Leadership Award from Temple University's Fox Business School and he was honored by the Partnership for Drug Free America.