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George Will GS ’68 announced as Baccalaureate speaker

Photo courtesy of the Office of Communications.
Photo courtesy of the Office of Communications.

Award-winning columnist George Will GS ’68 has been selected as the Class of 2019 Baccalaureate speaker, according to a University statement released Tuesday. The Baccalaureate service traditionally features music, interfaith blessings, and a guest speaker and “offers a moment of reflection” for graduating seniors. 

A distinguished political commentator, Will’s column has been published by The Washington Post since 1974. Now, 440 newspapers publish his column twice weekly. The Wall Street Journal has referred to him as “perhaps the most powerful journalist in America.”


Will was born in Champaign, Ill. After receiving degrees from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and the University of Oxford, Will continued his studies at Princeton, from which he received his Ph.D. in politics in 1968. 

He has taught political philosophy at Michigan State University, the University of Toronto, and Harvard University. From 1970 to 1972, Will was a staff member in the United States Senate and from 1973 through 1976, he was the Washington editor of National Review magazine.

In 1976, Will became a contributing editor to Newsweek magazine, in which he wrote bimonthly essays until 2011. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1977 for “distinguished commentary on a variety of topics.” Will’s work mainly covers politics and domestic and foreign affairs. 

In 2017, Will was announced as an MSNBC and NBC News political contributor. He now lives and works in the Washington, D.C., area. 

Will has also served on the University Board of Trustees. 

"George is a terrific choice. For decades, he’s been one of the best known and most closely followed columnists in the nation,” Professor Joe Stephens, founding director of the Program in Journalism and Washington Post alum, wrote in an email to the ‘Prince. 


“He brings deep thought and a bit of flair to everything he writes. Even if you happen to disagree with George’s views, you learn from reading his columns. That’s the mark of a great columnist," continued Stephens.

In an interview concerning his time at the University, Will said “never have I regretted the three years I spent in a carrel in the basement of Firestone. The superb instruction I received in the politics department supplied the intellectual resources on which I draw constantly in writing about America’s political and cultural controversies, almost all of which are echoes of arguments that define Western political philosophy.” 

The Baccalaureate service will be held on Sunday, June 2, in the University Chapel, followed by Class Day and Commencement on June 3 and 4.

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