Commencement 2005: Citation for Brian Williams, Doctor of Humane Letters
Presented by David O. Boone ’62, P’87, Trustee, for Doctor of Humane Letters
President Hansen, I am honored to present Brian Williams.
A democratic society must preserve a press that is objective, honest, and trustworthy. We honor today a journalist who has earned the trust of Americans with his intelligent and fair reporting.
Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of the NBC Nightly News, learned his craft by working his way up through the ranks of broadcast journalism, as a local correspondent and a White House correspondent. He traveled around the world reporting on wars and efforts at peace, natural disasters and human achievement, presidential elections and political sentiments of average Americans. He has covered the current war in Iraq from the ground in Baghdad and from the bedsides of soldiers recuperating in military hospitals.
Throughout his career Mr. Williams has been guided by the sage advice of the senior journalists who had mentored him, and by the ethical foundation laid by his parents, Gordon Williams, Bates Class of 1938, and the Dorothy Pampel Williams of the Class of 1940. He credits his parents with providing him the moral compass required to take on the responsibility of deciding what news should be presented to a large broadcast audience; such decisions can have significant impact on the ways Americans understand their country and its place in the world.
For his dedication to informed and objective reporting, for his attention to the craft of writing and editing, and for his commitment to expanding Americans’ knowledge of the events that shape the world, I present Brian Williams for the degree Doctor of Humane Letters.
Brian Williams, with intelligence and an even hand, you help Americans to comprehend the complexity of politics, society, and the interconnectedness of world events. Therefore, by the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees, I hereby confer upon you the Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities which here and everywhere pertain to this degree.