Journalist selected as Commencement speaker

By Eliot Brown

Former CNN anchor Aaron Brown will be the keynote speaker at graduation on May 13, the college announced Wednesday. Brown, 57, has been a broadcast journalist for over 20 years, working his way up from a TV-news reporter in Seattle, to become a reporter and weekend anchor at ABC News, to host his own nightly program ƒ?oeNewsnight with Aaron Brownƒ?? on CNN.

Brown was forced out of CNN last fall, when the network moved young anchor Anderson Cooper into Brownƒ?TMs timeslot. Cooperƒ?TMs move came presumably in part as a response to his well-acclaimed, emotional coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Brown, with a dry style more typical of network news than cable, was viewed by many as being swept aside by the changing tides of 24-hour cable news.

ƒ?oeAnderson acts like a regular human being, not like an anchorman. Heƒ?TMs comfortable in his own skin,ƒ?? CNN/U.S. President Jonathan Klein told the Los Angeles Times in November of the decision to move Cooper to Brownƒ?TMs timeslot. ƒ?oeHe lets his passion for the stories show. Itƒ?TMs refreshing and itƒ?TMs authentic.ƒ??

Brown received much recognition for his coverage of Sept. 11, 2001, when he reported from a Manhattan rooftop shortly after the attacks began. Before he left CNN, he covered a variety of other topics on his nightly program, often with a somewhat personal touch, frequently concluding the program by showing viewers the front pages of the next dayƒ?TMs newspapers around the country.

Brown represents something of a celebrity commencement speaker, especially when compared to speakers from the past two years. Edward Hirsch, a poet, spoke to the Class of 2005 and the Class of 2004 was given its farewell by David S. Tatel, a U.S. appellate court judge from Washington, D.C.

The Commencement speakers are picked in a mostly-closed process, in which the President makes the final decision.

The Commencement ceremony will begin at 1:30 p.m. on May 13, and honorary degrees will be handed to alums Charles Baxter ƒ?TM69 and Beverly Wildung Harrison ƒ?TM54. The student speaker has not yet been announced.