Commencement speakers announced

Tom Brokaw

Tom Brokaw

Vartan Gregorian

Vartan Gregorian

George Niederauer

George Niederauer

Tom Brokaw, renowned journalist and author, and Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation and former president of the New York Public Library and Brown University, will be the 2006 Commencement speakers at Stanford University, President John Hennessy announced Tuesday.

Brokaw will speak to undergraduates on Sunday, June 18; Gregorian will speak at the graduate student commencement on Saturday, June 17. In addition, Hennessy announced that San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer will be this year's Baccalaureate speaker on Saturday, June 17. All three ceremonies begin at 9:30 a.m.

Hennessy invited Brokaw to speak based upon the recommendation of the undergraduate senior class presidents: Kevin Gao, Pamela Kum, James Mitchell and Shyam Ravindran.

"Tom Brokaw represents the very best of the journalistic tradition and has a unique perspective on some of the most critical events of our recent history," Hennessy said. "And, as a Stanford parent, he knows our university well. I look forward to hearing his observations and insights, as well as the advice he has to offer to both our graduates and their families."

One of Brokaw's daughter is a Stanford alumna. The class presidents said they were delighted that he had accepted the invitation.

"Mr. Brokaw's firsthand view of history as a network anchor and respected journalist offers precisely the kind of perspective and knowledge that will be of high interest to classmates on this momentous day," the class presidents said in a joint statement. "He has had a front-row seat at some of the great historic moments of our time and grappled with some of the toughest ethical and professional issues along the way. We are eager to hear what he has to say."

Brokaw is a South Dakota native who earned his undergraduate degree in political science at the University of South Dakota. He began his broadcast career in Sioux City, Iowa, moving on to Omaha and Atlanta before joining NBC news as a Los Angeles anchor in 1966. Before becoming anchor of the NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw in 1983, he was anchor of NBC News' Today. He has reported on some of the most prominent events in recent history, including Watergate, the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the Oklahoma City bombings. He also is author of The Greatest Generation, which chronicles the lives of Americans who came of age during the Great Depression and World War II.

Hennessy praised Gregorian, who holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Stanford, for his work as an educator.

"Dr. Gregorian brings with him the wisdom of a lifetime of intellectual and professional accomplishments," Hennessy said. "His academic career had an auspicious beginning with his Ph.D. work at Stanford, and his reflections will be a perfect capstone for the achievements of our graduate students at a time of great pride for them and their families."

Gregorian is president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the grant-making institution founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1911. Previously, he was the president of Brown University and president of the New York Public Library. His awards include the National Humanities Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. Gregorian is the author of The Road to Home: My Life and Times; The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan: Politics of Reform and Modernization, 1880-1946; and Islam: A Mosaic, not a Monolith.

Niederauer will be sworn in as San Francisco's Archbishop on Feb. 15. Named a Chaplain to His Holiness Pope John Paul II in 1984, with the title Monsignor, and a Prelate of Honor in 1988, Niederauer was appointed eighth Bishop of Salt Lake City in 1994. It was during his freshman year at Stanford that Niederauer decided to enter St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, from which he earned a bachelor of philosophy degree. He holds a bachelor of sacred theology degree from the Catholic University of America, a master of arts degree in English literature from Loyola University and a doctorate in English literature from the University of Southern California. In 2004 he received the Gandhi Peace Award from the Gandhi Alliance for Peace.

Scotty McLennan, dean for religious life, described Niederauer as a broad-minded religious leader deeply committed to interfaith work. "He is known as a good speaker—bright and witty—and one who reaches out to other world religions while warning that in all traditions 'religion is dangerous in the hands of proud, manipulative, judgmental and selfish people,'" said McLennan.

Stanford is holding two commencement ceremonies this year because of limited space due to the renovation of Stanford Stadium. The stadium, which in the past has accommodated undergraduates, graduate students and their families, is under renovation through September. Commencement has been switched to the smaller Elliott Field for this year only. Two ceremonies will be held to include as many family members as possible. The Baccalaureate ceremony will be held on the university's Inner Quadrangle.

Stanford's 115th Commencement and Baccalaureate ceremonies are part of a two-day celebration for graduates, their families and friends, and members of the Stanford community.