CBS News President David Rhodes will be this year’s convocation speaker for the Walter Cronkite School, Dean Christopher Callahan announced Tuesday.
“It’s an honor to be able to speak to the group,” Rhodes said. “I hope everybody will take what they learn and go out and do great things.”
The announcement was made the same week as the 50th anniversary of Walter Cronkite’s first day as anchor and managing editor of CBS Evening News.
“Two of Cronkite’s passions were the Cronkite School and CBS,” Callahan said. “This brings them together.”
Rhodes said it was important to share what Cronkite inspired in his convocation speech.
Rhodes became president of CBS News in February 2011 at age 37, after 12 years with Fox News Channel, which Cronkite School Assistant Dean Mark Lodato said he believes will resonate with students.
“He’s pretty young, and a great example of all you can accomplish in journalism in a relatively short amount of time,” Lodato said.
Callahan said the “hot” reputation of his students makes booking big names in journalism like Rhodes fairly simple.
“Folks in journalism locally, regionally and nationally are well aware of our students and the work they’re doing here,” Callahan said. “It makes it kind of easy. Scheduling is always difficult with someone like Rhodes, but he was genuinely excited to join us for convocation.”
Rhodes said he sees the work Cronkite interns and graduates contribute to CBS News, and his convocation speech will urge the continuation of that relationship.
“We’re trying to keep that recruiting, because we’ve had a great experience with interns from Cronkite in the past, and hope to continue that in the future,” Rhodes said.
Callahan said he ultimately looks for two things in a convocation speaker — someone who is a great role model and someone who will have a powerful message for graduates as they’re leaving.
“David certainly meets those requirements,” Callahan said. “The fact that he’s willing to do this speaks volumes about him and how highly he thinks of journalists coming out of Cronkite.”
Lodato said he thinks Rhodes’s speech will help students with their job searches after graduation.
“I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for our students to get some insight on what is most important on the network news level today, both with news coverage and prospective employment,” Lodato said. “I hope we get a sense of what’s important to (Rhodes), in terms of the news industry today, and certainly the skill set CBS is looking for in its future employees.”
With the future on every graduate’s mind, Callahan said he thinks Rhodes’s message will shine a light on the students’ futures and the future of journalism.
“I have no doubt the message will be a powerful one that our graduating students will take with them,” Callahan said. “To listen to somebody who is so high-profile in our world, that’s something they’ll remember for years to come and draw from his message.”
Rhodes said he’s glad to be talking to journalism students in a time when the industry is facing “challenging and uncertain times.” He said promoting the success of journalists has never been more important.
Convocation will take place May 4 at Grady Gammage Auditorium in Tempe.
Contact the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org