Bestselling author, journalist Walter Isaacson selected as Lehigh’s 147th commencement speaker


Esteemed author, journalist, and president and CEO of The Aspen Institute Walter Isaacson has been selected to deliver Lehigh University’s 147th commencement address on May 18, 2015. The university will make an official announcement Thursday morning.

Isaacson formerly served as the editor of TIME magazine and the chairman and CEO of CNN. The Aspen Institute is a nonpartisan “educational and policy studies organization” based in Washington, D.C., and Isaacson has served at its head since 2003. According to its website, The Aspen Institute aims to “foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues.”

Walter Isaacson (Lynn Goldsmith/Courtesy photo)

Walter Isaacson (Lynn Goldsmith/Courtesy photo)

Isaacson has also written several biographies such as “Steve Jobs” (2011), “Einstein: His Life and Universe” (2007), “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life” (2003), and “Kissinger: A Biography” (1992), and was a co-author of “The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made” (1986).

He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for his biography of Kissinger.

“I couldn’t be more delighted to be able to have Walter Isaacson deliver this year’s commencement address,” interim President Kevin Clayton, ’84, P’14, said in a statement. “With his unique perspectives on some of history’s most accomplished and fascinating figures, I’m sure he will have interesting insights to share with our graduating students and their families.”

After graduating from Harvard College in 1974, Isaacson attended Pembroke College of Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Isaacson began his journalism career at The Sunday Times of London followed by the New Orleans Times-Picayune/States-Item. He then joined TIME in 1978 as a political correspondent. He became TIME’s 14th editor in 1996.

In addition to his position with The Aspen Institute, Isaacson is on the board of United Airlines, Tulane University and the Overseers of Harvard University. He is chair emeritus for Teach for America, a program that gives college graduates the opportunity to teach in low income communities in the U.S. Isaacson is also vice chair of Partners for a New Beginning, “a public-private group tasked with forging ties between the United States and the Muslim world,” according to The Aspen Institute website.

Isaacson was the former chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors until 2012. Appointed by President Barack Obama, Isaacson helped to oversee Radio Free Europe, Voice of America and several other international broadcasts of the United States.

Among his many honors, Isaacson was selected in 2012 as one of the Time 100, a list created by TIME honoring the most prominent public figures in the world. Additionally, he was selected to deliver the 2014 Jefferson Lecture by the National Endowment for the Humanities, an honor considered “the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities,” according to the endowment’s website.

“Lehigh is a university focused on the educational development of its students, and I am excited to hear about Isaacson’s work in the educational field,” Student Senate President Kerry Mallett, ’15, said in a statement. “I’m thrilled he will be our commencement speaker.”

Isaacson will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Lehigh at the commencement ceremony in May.

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