NBC’s Brian Williams to Deliver 2011 Commencement Speech


Brian Williams, anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” will deliver the commencement address at the 2011 graduation ceremony on May 22. (Charles Osgood/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

Published: March 30, 2011

Brian Williams, anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” will deliver Fordham’s 166th commencement speech on May 21.

Two years after becoming anchor of America’s most-watched news program in 2004, Williams was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world. Williams is the second “Nightly News” anchor to speak at Fordham’s commencement, and the third journalist to speak in the past five years.

Keith Eldredge, dean of students at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC), said, “I hope that the communication skills he displays on the nightly news will assist him in delivering an engaging and thought-provoking speech and will shine a brief spotlight on Fordham and the wonderful class of students who are receiving their degrees.”

Williams began his broadcasting career in 1981 at KOAM-TV in Pittsburg, Kan., and worked in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City before joining NBC in 1993. Williams was then appointed as NBC’s chief White House correspondent, before becoming anchor of “The News With Brian Williams” on MSNBC and CNBC.

He is also the recipient of 11 Edward R. Murrow Awards, 12 Emmy Awards, the duPont-Columbia University Award, the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism and the George Foster Peabody Award.

Williams is most known for his coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq. He was the first NBC News correspondent to reach Baghdad during the 2003 War in Iraq and has returned several times, in addition to reporting in Afghanistan and Iran.

“I’m really excited,” Andrea Paul, FCLC ’11, said. “I think he is a great journalist and anchor. He has also recently been making appearances on comedy programs and doing an incredible job, so I’m sure he will be an entertaining, and hopefully inspiring, speaker.”

Mathew Rodriguez, FCLC ’11, said,  “We go to a school that is highly regarded for its communication and media studies programs, and having Brian Williams as a speaker is having someone who has gone to the top of such a field. However, Brian Williams also represents to me another white man who shirks the issues in favor of pre-packaged consumable news. I don’t think of him as a bad choice, but rather I think Fordham has decided to make a safe choice.”

Before beginning a career in broadcast, Williams was a firefighter in his hometown of Middletown, N.J., and worked as an intern in the White House during the Carter administration.

Past commencement speakers include Mary McAleese, president of Ireland (2010), Tom Brokaw, former “Nightly News” Anchor (2009), Charlie Rose, Emmy award-winning journalist (2008) and Willie Randolph, then manager of the New York Mets (2007).