Journalist Christiane Amanpour will address USC’s graduating class as the 2012 commencement speaker on May 11, the Daily Trojan has learned. The speech will take place in Alumni Park.
Amanpour serves as the chief international correspondent for CNN International and the global affairs anchor for ABC News. This spring she will begin hosting Amanpour, an interview television program on CNN.
Judy Muller, a professor of journalism at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and a former ABC News correspondent, said Amanpour has distinguished herself with her overseas reporting.
“[Amanpour is] a terrific choice — I was happy to see it,” Muller said. “We’ve had male broadcast journalists before, but it’s wonderful to see a woman broadcaster who has such extensive experience as an overseas correspondent, as a war correspondent and as a leader.”
Amanpour, who spoke at Harvard University in 2010, first gained prominence when she reported on the Persian Gulf War as an international correspondent for CNN in 1990. Since then, she has covered war, famine, genocide and natural disasters.
Rachel Israel, a senior majoring in business administration, said she is excited to have someone so well known speaking at commencement.
“All that I expect from a university commencement ceremony is to see that the school is large enough or influential enough to get someone who will impress the people in attendance,” Israel said. “Christiane Amanpour is an impressive public figure, making it a bit more worth it to wake up for such an early ceremony.”
Amanpour was the first international correspondent to interview Tony Blair, then-British prime minister; Jacques Chirac, then-French president; and Pervez Musharraf, then-Pakistani president, after Sept. 11.
Her accolades include an inaugural Television Academy Award, nine News and Documentary Emmys and four George Foster Peabody Awards.
Amanpour is also noted for her exclusive interviews with world leaders, such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the presidents of Afghanistan, Sudan and Syria, and the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. She secured the only interview with former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and an exclusive with the late Col. Moammar Ghadafi of Libya.
Though most Annenberg students are familiar with Amanpour, not all graduating seniors are exhibiting the same enthusiasm.
Andrew Ramirez, a senior majoring in English, said he did not recognize Amanpour’s name, but he is sure she will be an interesting keynote speaker.
“I have no idea who she is,” Ramirez said. “But [her speaking] will introduce a lot of people to who she is.”
Past USC commencement speakers include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, former USC President Steven B. Sample and former Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Amanpour will be the first female commencement speaker at USC since 2003.
Laura Escobar-Vallecillo, a senior majoring in communication, said she was happy USC picked a female commencement speaker.
There have been two female speakers since 1983, not including Amanpour. Judge Dorothy Nelson of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals addressed USC’s graduating class of 1983 and Brown University President Ruth Simmons addressed the graduating class of 2003.
“That just proves that the times are changing,” Escobar-Vallecillo said.