MIAMI, March 27 — At its annual meeting, the Knight Foundation today announced the election of four new trustees to its board.
They are Dr. W. Gerald Austen, chief of surgical services at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; James K. Batten, president of Knight-Ridder Inc., Miami; Rolfe Neill, chairman and publisher of the Charlotte Observer, Charlotte, N.C.; and Beverly Knight Olson, an active community volunteer in Macon, Ga.
Each was elected to a one-year term as a trustee of this private, independent philanthropic foundation, which is the beneficiary of the late John S. Knight and his brother, James L. Knight, chairman of the foundation. The Knight Foundation is among the 25 largest private foundations in the country.
Dr. Austen, 57, a distinguished heart surgeon, is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School, where since 1974 he has been the Edward D. Churchill Professor of Surgery. He has been associated with Massachusetts General Hospital since 1963 and has been its chief of surgical
services since 1969.
Dr. Austen has been a leader in studying the physiologic events that occur during heart surgery and in the surgical treatment of many of the complications of acute coronary artery problems. Among his numerous professional accomplishments, he has served as president of the American Heart Association and the American Surgical Association.
He is a life member of the corporation (board of trustees) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Austen is a native of Akron, Ohio. He and his wife, Patricia Ramsdell Austen, have four children.
Batten, 51, president of Knight-Ridder since 1982, has oversight responsibility for the company’s news and editorial operations and for broadcast, cable and business information operations. He has served on the company’s board of directors since 1981. He is a graduate of Davidson College and earned a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.
He worked as a reporter for the Charlotte Observer and in Knight-Ridder’s Washington Bureau, specializing in Southern politics and civil rights. He was an assistant city editor at the Detroit Free Press and, in 1972, was named executive editor of the Charlotte Observer. He joined Knight-Ridder’s corporate staff as a vice president in 1975.
Among his many professional and community activities, Batten is a member of the board of the Associated Press, a trustee of the University of Miami and of Davidson College, and is vice chairman of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife, Jean Trueworthy Batten, have three children.
Neill, 54, who began his daily newspaper career with the Charlotte Observer in 1957, returned in 1975 as president and publisher. He was named chairman of the company, a Knight-Ridder subsidiary, in 1986. In the interim, Neill operated Knight-Ridder’s suburban newspapers in the Miami area for four years and for
five years was editor of the Philadelphia Daily News and a vice president and director of its parent company, Philadelphia Newspapers Inc., also a Knight-Ridder subsidiary. Before going to the Philadelphia Daily News, he was assistant to the publisher of the New York Daily News.
Neill is active on civic boards and in press association work and is a frequent lecturer on newspapers. He has five children and two grandchildren.
Olson, 36, has served as a volunteer and board member for numerous civic and philanthropic groups in Macon. She currently is on the boards and the executive committees of Goodwill Industries of Georgia and the Red Cross. She is a member of the board of the Middle Georgia Historical Society. Olson has lectured and taught about animals and originated a program for school groups at the Museum of Arts and Sciences using live animals.
She is a member of the Junior League of Macon and has served as a volunteer for Partners in Education, the American Cancer Society, the March of Dimes and the American Heart Association, among others. She and her husband, Edmund E. Olson, president and publisher of the Macon Telegraph and News, have one son.
She is a daughter of James L. Knight.
The election of these four trustees brings the number of Knight Foundation trustees to 12. The others are James L. Knight, chairman, Lee Hills, vice chairman, C. C. Gibson, president, Charles E. Clark, secretary and treasurer, Alvah H. Chapman Jr., Gordon E. Heffern, Henry King Stanford and Barbara Knight Toomey.