Tom Brokaw scheduled for graduation

Mindy Hagen

“NBC Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw has been spending most of his time coordinating his network’s coverage of the war on terrorism and the presidential campaign, but come mid-June, Brokaw will have another task to tackle: Northwestern’s 146th annual commencement.

Brokaw, who has worked for NBC News as a reporter and anchor for the past 38 years, will give the commencement address to graduates of the Class of 2004 and their families June 18, NU officials announced Wednesday. He will also receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at the ceremony.

“He is clearly someone with an international reputation and he’s someone who graduates and their families will enjoy hearing,” said Alan Cubbage, vice president for university relations. “He’s got significant expertise in national and international affairs, and being a presidential election year, he obviously has a lot of expertise in that area as well.”

After covering every presidential election since 1968, Brokaw has announced his intentions to step down from his position after the current race is finished in November.

In addition to his achievements in broadcast journalism, Brokaw is a best-selling author who has published four books, including “The Greatest Generation,” which chronicles the accomplishments of World War II soldiers, and “A Long Way From Home,” which reflects on his experience growing up in the American heartland.

A native of South Dakota, he graduated with a political science degree from the University of South Dakota and then took his first jobs working as a reporter for NBC in Omaha, Neb., and later Atlanta. He eventually became the network’s chief White House correspondent during the Watergate years of the early 1970s.

In April, Brokaw landed the first interview with President Bush since the war began. He kept NBC viewers abreast of developments in Iraq by becoming the first network evening news anchor to return to Baghdad to broadcast for five nights on postwar recovery efforts during the summer.

He still has ties with Medill Prof. Joseph Angotti, who worked closely with Brokaw while serving as a executive producer of “NBC Nightly News”.

Brandon Brooks, co-chairman of the NU Class Alliance’s 2004 Class Council, praised the selection and said he felt honored that Brokaw would choose to spend some of his time speaking to NU graduating seniors.

“I’m very excited to hear what he has to say about the state of the nation and the state of the world today, ” said Brooks, a Weinberg senior. “His commentary will be refreshing.”

Wendy Chamberlain, a former ambassador to Pakistan, gave the commencement address last year. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan addressed graduates in 2002.