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Williams to address graduates

Madeline Buckley | Thursday, January 14, 2010

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams will deliver the 2010 Commencement address, University spokesman Dennis Brown told The Observer.

In a release given exclusively to The Observer, University President Fr. John Jenkins expressed his excitement that Williams accepted the University’s invitation.

“Mr. Williams is one of this country’s most respected and trusted journalists, and we are absolutely delighted that he has accepted our invitation,” Jenkins said. “He has tremendous insight into the current state of our world, and I know his perspectives will be of great interest to our graduating Class of 2010.”

Williams is the managing editor of NBC Nightly News and has covered the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the War in Iraq and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

His coverage of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina earned him praise and several awards.

The New York Times described his coverage of the hurricane’s impact as “a defining moment as a network reporter and anchor.”

He joined NBC news in 1993 after working for seven years as a correspondent and anchor for CBS news, where he covered the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Williams is not the first journalist to deliver the Notre Dame Commencement address. Tom Brokaw gave the address in 1993 and Tim Russert spoke to the Class of 2002. William F. Buckley Jr. delivered the Commencement address in 1978 and Mark Shields in 1997.

President Barack Obama delivered last year’s Commencement speech, an invitation that generated nationwide controversy regarding the president’s views on abortion.

Williams has received several awards for anchoring and reporting, including four Edward R. Murrow awards, five Emmy Awards, the duPont-Columbia University Award, the 2009 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism and the industry’s highest honor, the George Foster Peabody Award.

Early in his career at NBC, Williams was named chief White House correspondent and covered the Clinton administration.

In 2003, Williams was the first NBC News correspondent to reach Baghdad after the United States invadedthe city. A veteran of Middle East coverage, he reported on the Iraqi elections in 2005.

He has also worked in Africa, covering issues such as AIDS, poverty and disease.
Williams was one of the first network evening anchors to respond to the 2005 tsunami in Indonesia, where he related recovery and relief efforts. He also covered the deaths of Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy Jr., as well as the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
Currently, Williams is covering the destruction in Haiti after Wednesday’s earthquake.
He is a frequent guest on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “The Tonight Show,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and “The Late Show with David Letterman,” and has made cameo appearances on NBC’s “30 Rock.)

Williams attended George Washington University and the Catholic University of America.