Charles Gibson, the anchor of the top-ranked ABC’s World News, will be the featured speaker at this year’s Commencement, College officials announced today.
Gibson, 63, is one of the most distinguished journalists in television with more than 40 years of experience, some 30 of those spent at ABC News.
Approximately 500 students in the Class of 2007 are expected to receive their degrees during the ceremony, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sunday, June 17, on Hull Plaza.
Gibson will receive an honorary degree, along with Richard Sorabji, professor emeritus of philosophy, King’s College, London. Gibson will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, while Sorabji will receive a Doctor of Letters.
Gibson’s long tenure with ABC played a major role in his decision to speak at the College’s 213th Commencement. Gibson was covering the House of Representatives for the network in 1986 when he met with Philip R. Beuth, then an executive at Capital Cities/ABC.
“Phil Beuth literally changed my life,” Gibson said. “I hardly knew the man, but he invited me to have a cup of coffee one morning in the ABC cafeteria and out of the blue said, ‘What would you think of being the male host on Good Morning America?’ On the scale of surprises, that was off the charts.”
Gibson co-anchored the popular morning program from 1987 to 1998 and then returned to re-launch the program with Diane Sawyer in January 1999. In addition, he was also co-anchor of Primetime Thursday, now known as Primetime.
He and Beuth, a College trustee, remain friends. When Gibson signed off from Good Morning America last June, he thanked Beuth, saying he “hired me when everyone thought he was crazy.” To view clip, click here.
Beuth, a member of the Class of 1954, is one of the College’s most generous benefactors. In 2004, he pledged $2 million to support Beuth House, one of seven houses in Union’s unique residential system; in 1996, he donated $1 million to support the expansion and renovation of Schaffer Library.
When Beuth asked his former anchor to speak at Commencement, Gibson reminded him of his own ties to the College. Gibson’s father, Burdett Gibson, graduated in 1923, and his uncle, Charles D. Gibson, was a member of the Class of 1920. Both men were born in Schenectady.
“I am delighted that Charlie has agreed to do this,” said Beuth, who retired in 1995 as president of Good Morning America. “Union is a wonderful school and deserves to have a speaker the caliber of Charlie.”
Gibson was named the anchor of World News last May after the death of longtime anchor Peter Jennings. The program has consistently finished number one in the weekly ratings this spring, beating rivals NBC Nightly News and The CBS Evening News.
Gibson joined ABC News in 1975 from a syndicated news service, Television News Inc. From 1970 to 1973, he was an anchor and reporter for WJLA-TV (then WMAL-TV), the ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining WJLA-TV, he had been news director for WLVA-TV and Radio in Lynchburg, Va. His first job in broadcasting was Washington producer for RKO Network in 1966.
Gibson is a graduate of Princeton University, where he was news director for the University’s radio station, WPRB-FM. A native of Evanston, Ill., Gibson grew up in Washington, D.C. He and his wife, Arlene, live in New York. They have two daughters and a grandson.
Sorabji joined the Department of Philosophy at King's College London in 1970, becoming Professor in 1981. Before that he was an Associate Professor at Cornell University, 1962-69.
Since 2000 he has taken up posts as Gresham Professor of Rhetoric at Gresham College, London (2000-03), Adjunct Professor at the University of Texas at Austin (2000-), Distinguished Visiting Scholar at New York University (2000-03), and Visiting Professor at the City University of New York (2004-).
Union College, founded in 1795 as the first college chartered by the New York State Board of Regents, offers programs in the liberal arts and engineering to 2,100 undergraduates.
The College also is included in the top tier of the country’s leading liberal arts colleges, according to U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings. The College is ranked 39th out of 215 schools in the 2007 edition of America’s Best Colleges. Last July, the New York Times included the College on its list of 20 “hidden gems” in the higher education landscape.
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