Journalist Ted Koppel is the 2018 Haas Center Distinguished Visitor

Journalist and alumnus Ted Koppel will be in residence at Stanford as the Haas Center Distinguished Visitor and will deliver the Haas Distinguished Visitor Lecture on April 18.

Ted Koppel, longtime anchor of ABC News’ Nightline, who earned his master’s degree at Stanford in 1962, will visit the university during winter and spring quarters as the Haas Center’s 2018 Mimi and Peter E. Haas Distinguished Visitor.

The Distinguished Visitor program of the Haas Center for Public Service brings to Stanford prominent individuals whose lives and careers have had significant impact across the nation and globally through distinct public service contributions.

Ted Koppel on set in newsroom

Journalist and alumnus Ted Koppel will visit the university during winter and spring quarters as the Haas Center’s 2018 Mimi and Peter E. Haas Distinguished Visitor. (Image credit: ABC News)

Koppel will engage with students, faculty and community organization leaders in a variety of workshops and discussions on academic freedom, the role of the media in a divided nation, cybersecurity and civil discourse. He will give the Mimi and Peter E. Haas Distinguished Visitor Lecture on Public Service and the University on April 18 in Paul Brest Hall. The event, free and open to the public, begins with a reception at 4:30 p.m., followed by the lecture at 5 p.m.

Over the course of 26 years as anchor and managing editor of Nightline, Koppel became the longest-serving news anchor in U.S. broadcast history. When he left ABC News after 42 years, he was the most honored reporter in the network’s history, having received eight Peabody Awards. In addition, Koppel has been awarded 12 Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Awards – television’s equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize – and 42 Emmy Awards, including one for lifetime achievement. He has also served as a contributing columnist to the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal and as senior contributor to the CBS Sunday Morning Show.

During the more than 50 years that he has worked as a professional journalist, Koppel has embodied the term “eyewitness to history.” He has covered, among other historic events, John F. Kennedy’s funeral in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign in 1968 and a succession of 10 conflicts as an ABC News war correspondent. Koppel was with Mikhail Gorbachev inside the Kremlin on the last day of the Soviet Union and was the first journalist to interview Nelson Mandela at his home in Soweto, South Africa, upon his release from 27 years in prison.

“Ted Koppel is one of this country’s most highly regarded journalists, known not only for the intelligence and integrity that has characterized his news reporting throughout his 50-year career, but also for his ability to present competing sides of important issues with consistent balance and fairness,” said Stanford Provost Persis Drell. “We can learn much from Mr. Koppel’s principled and rigorous approach to his work. I look forward to the discussions of democracy, journalistic integrity and civic responsibility that he will bring to Stanford as this year’s Haas Distinguished Visitor.”

Koppel’s most recent book, the New York Times bestseller Lights Out, published in October 2015, examines and evaluates potential ways for America to prepare for a cybercatastrophe.

In anticipation of his time at Stanford, Koppel wrote, “We live in what is, arguably, one of the most dangerous times in my lifetime. A number of countries (including North Korea) have the capacity to inflict enormous damage on our infrastructure while maintaining anonymity with the use of cyberattacks. By virtue of our dependence on the internet, the United States may be the most vulnerable country in the world to such an assault. That threat looms in the context of a political environment in which Americans view one another with mounting suspicion and hostility. The notion that there are neutral, centrist news organizations that enjoy a measure of trust along all shades of the political spectrum is a fading hope.”

He continued, “What I will bring to Stanford is 55 years of experience as a working journalist and the ability to explain to a generation of students how the disintegration of the communications industry evolved. I will attempt to explain the problems. I hope to engage some of the brightest minds in the United States in searching for remedies.”

While earning his master’s degree in communication, Koppel met his wife, Grace Anne Dorney Koppel, who earned her master’s in communications research in 1967. Both will be in residency for three 2-week periods from January through April.

“We are honored to have one of the preeminent journalists of our time come to Stanford at a pivotal moment for our campus community, the nation and the world,” said Haas Center Faculty Director Deborah Stipek. “We look forward to discussions about current challenges to democracy and the role next-generation leaders can play in shaping an informed and invigorated civil society.”

Previous visitors have included Beverly Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College; Rick Lowe, Houston artist and a 2014 MacArthur Foundation grant recipient; John Githongo, Kenyan journalist and renowned anticorruption activist; Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway; Jane Lubchenco, former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and Russ Feingold, former U.S. senator.

More information on Koppel’s visit is available on the Haas Center website. Members of the Stanford community can request meetings or workshops with Koppel through that site.