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New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks to give 2011 commencement address at Rice

David Brooks

HOUSTON – (Aug. 27, 2010) – New York Times opinion and editorial columnist and PBS "NewsHour" commentator David Brooks will give the commencement address at Rice University's 98th graduation ceremony May 14, 2011.

"Once more I’ve been truly impressed by the thoughtfulness our students have shown in choosing their commencement speaker," said Rice University President David Leebron. "David Brooks is a nationally respected editorial columnist who has expressed informed and thoughtful opinions about everything from politics to social issues with a unique blend of insight and humor.

"He has emerged as a truly independent thinker whose opinions have gained from his life experiences and accumulated knowledge. That is an important message for Rice students to hear." 

The 2011 commencement committee came together and started its' work last school year. This year's committee comprised a faculty chair, three Rice undergraduates, a graduate student and five other students who graduated in May.

"We were really looking this year for someone people would recognize," said Rice senior and commencement committee member Natalie Clericuzio. "I've read his columns over the years, and I thought he'd be someone who would grab students' attention during a hot spring day and bring excitement and humor to graduation."

Brooks' column in The New York Times started in September 2003. He has been a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, a contributing editor at Newsweek and the Atlantic Monthly, and he is currently a commentator on "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer." He is the author of "Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There" and “On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense."

Brooks joined The Weekly Standard at its inception in September 1995, after working at The Wall Street Journal for the previous nine years. His last post at the Journal was as op-ed editor.

Brooks graduated from the University of Chicago in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in history.

"It was the aim of the committee to find a good speaker who we knew would be a dynamic speaker, that would have a positive message to give our students and that could mix in some humor," said commencement faculty adviser Rob Griffin, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering.

"He has a unique perspective on the intersection of politics and popular culture and American behaviors. We thought he has some very interesting things to say to our students and will have a hopeful message for them."

Continuing a tradition that began in 2009, Rice will present an award in the speaker's name to a graduating student whose work best serves the issues represented by the speaker.

Committee members included Griffin; graduate student Todd Mollan; undergraduates Radhika Chhabra, Pierre Elias and Clericuzio; and advisers Matt Taylor, associate dean of undergraduates, and Mark Davis, assistant to the president. Five students who graduated in May were also on the committee: Tracy Dansker, Patrick McAnaney, Trey O'Neill, Kristjan Stone and Susan Wu.