NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The Rutgers Board of Governors announced that the university's 2016 commencement speaker will be Bill Moyers, a major figure in broadcast journalism for decades.
The announcement came at the board's April 6 meeting in Winants Hall on College Avenue. Moyers' speech will be open to the public at the May 15 graduation ceremony scheduled for Rutgers Stadium in Piscataway.
An award-winning journalist, Moyers lives in New Jersey and was a founding organizer of the Peace Corps, was special assistant and press secretary for President Lyndon Johson, publisher of Newsday, and senior news analyst of the CBS Evening News.
Moyers has written extensively on death and dying, addiction and recovery, and faith, authored bestselling books, and produced documentaries, including Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth.
Moyers has received more than 36 Emmy Awards, two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, nine Peabodys and three George Polk Awards.
He is fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been honored with the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Lifetime Achievement Award, and was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1995.
He is currently president of the Schumann Media Center, a non-profit organization for the support of independent journalism.
Rutgers is giving him a $350,000 honorarium for the speech, as well as an honorary doctor of laws degree.
Additionally, astrophysicist Dame S. Jocelyn Bell Burnell will receive an honorary doctor of science degree.
Bell Burnell is known for discovering the first radio pulsars (a pulsar is a highly magnetized, rotating neutron star that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation).
She is pro-chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin, and a visiting professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Oxford.
Bell Burnell was a pioneering woman scientist in a generation that had to fight to overcome sexism in the field.
Rutgers has had controversy with recent commencement speakers: in 2014, there were student protests after the university invited Condoleezza Rice to speak at commencement. Rice ultimately pulled out and was replaced by former New Jersey governor Tom Kean, who gave the speech for free.
Other recent commencement speakers include Bill Nye and lawyer Virginia Long.
At Rutgers-Newark's commencement, actor, radio personality, author, and humanitarian Wendell Pierce will give the commencement speech and receive an honorary doctor of fine arts degree. Pierce is best known for his role on HBO's "The Wire."
Former UN Under-Secretary-General Radhika Coomaraswamy will be awarded an honorary doctor of human letters.
At Rutgers-Camden's commencement, Sister Mary Scullion, who co-founded Project HOME, a model for integrated health care that serves the homeless people of Philadelphia, will be the commencement speaker.
Raymond Ackerman, a South African entrepreneur and philanthropist, will receive honorary doctor of letters degrees at Rutgers University-Camden’s commencement.