Journalist Roberts to speak at commencement
CHAMPAIGN — A nationally prominent journalist will again be the keynote speaker for the University of Illinois commencement this spring.
News analyst Cokie Roberts, a political commentator for ABC News, will deliver the commencement address at both campuswide ceremonies on May 13 at the Assembly Hall, the UI announced Wednesday.
Roberts co-anchored ABC's "This Week" from 1996 to 2002 with Sam Donaldson and provides news analysis for all ABC News programming. She is also senior news analyst for National Public Radio, where she was a congressional correspondent for more than 10 years.
Roberts has won numerous awards during her 40-year broadcasting career, including three Em- mys. She is a mem- ber of the Broad- casting and Cable Hall of Fame, and was named by American Women in Radio and Television as one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting, according to a UI release.
Roberts and her husband, Steven V. Roberts, write a weekly syndicated newspaper column and are contributing editors to USA Weekend Magazine. Their co-written book "Our Haggadah: Uniting Traditions for Interfaith Families" was published in 2011. Their earlier collaboration, "From This Day Forward," an account of their more-than-40-year marriage and other marriages in American history, was a New York Times best-selling book.
All of Cokie Roberts' other books were best-sellers, including the No. 1 "We Are Our Mothers' Daughters," about women's roles and relationships throughout American history. She also wrote "Founding Mothers," published in 2004, and "Ladies of Liberty," published in 2008 — both histories of women in America's founding era.
Roberts holds more than 25 honorary degrees. In 2008, the Library of Congress named her a "Living Legend." She has two children and six grandchildren.
Last year's commencement speaker was White House Chief of Staff William Daley.
Roberts is at least the ninth journalist invited to speak at the UI commencement in the last 25 years, several of them with Champaign-Urbana or UI connections. Others were:
— Columnist George Will, a Champaign native (1988).
— Richard Salant, former president of CBS News (1989).
— Former NBC news anchor John Chancellor (1995), who had to cancel when he became ill. (Then-UI President Stanley Ikenberry stepped in.) Chancellor attended Illinois.
— Television news reporter Diane Sawyer (1997).
— Newspaper columnist and television commentator Robert Novak, a UI graduate (1998).
— Richard Kaplan, then-president of CNN (1999). He attended Illinois in 1965.
— New York Times reporter Barry Bearak, a UI alumnus (2003).
— Bill Geist, correspondent and commentator for CBS News and a UI graduate (2005).