March 30, 2017
Peggy Noonan (Photo Credit: Melanie Dunea)

Peggy Noonan, a Wall Street Journal columnist, author, and former special assistant and speechwriter to President Ronald Reagan, will address the Class of 2017 at The Catholic University of America Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 13, 2017.

Noonan, whose column, Declarations, has run weekly in The Wall Street Journal since 2000, is the author of nine books on American politics, history, and culture, including the political classic What I Saw at the Revolution and her recent collection The Time of Our Lives. She has written bestselling biographies of Pope Saint John Paul II and Ronald Reagan.

“I am delighted that Peggy Noonan will deliver the commencement address to this year’s graduates,” said University President John Garvey. “She is someone who spent important time in Washington at another period of political transition. This contributed to her invaluable insight into today’s affairs. As a columnist she is distinguished in part by open mindedness and a sense of fair play, which are unusual things these days. I think that our students will be inspired by her writing and her career as a journalist.

Noonan worked with President Reagan on many speeches, including his address to the nation after the Challenger explosion, which is ranked as one of the best American political speeches of the 20th century, according to a list compiled by professors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Texas A&M University and based on the opinions of 137 leading scholars of American public addresses. That speech drew upon the poet John Magee’s famous words about aviators who “slipped the surly bonds of earth ... and touched the face of God.”

She has taught at Yale University and been a fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.  Before entering the Reagan White House, Noonan was a producer and writer at CBS News in New York and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. In 2010 she received the award of which she is proudest, the Medal of Media Excellence of the Medal of Honor Society, whose members are the living recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Noonan is a trustee of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Foundation. She has been awarded honorary doctorates from her alma mater, Fairleigh Dickinson University; Miami University; the University of Portland; Ave Maria University; St. John Fisher College; Adelphi College; and Saint Francis College. She appears regularly on ABC’s This Week, CBS’s Face the Nation, and NBC’s Meet the Press.

Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, who served as United States Trade Representative — the country’s top trade negotiator — from 1997 to 2001, will deliver the Commencement address for the Columbus School of Law on Friday, May 26, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  Barshefsky is a partner at the law firm of WilmerHale.

Noonan will receive the degree Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa.  Barshefsky will receive a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

The University will also confer honorary degrees on Joanne Conway and William E. Conway Jr., benefactors of the William and Joanne Conway Nursing Scholars Program at Catholic University; Joseph Patrick Riley Jr., who served as the mayor of Charleston, S.C., from December 1975 to January 2016; and Mario Paredes, chief executive officer of Advocate Community Providers and a founder of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders.  

Catholic University’s 128th Annual Commencement Ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 13, starting at 10 a.m. The exercises will be held outdoors on the east steps of the Basilica, located at 400 Michigan Ave., N.E.  The Columbus School of Law Commencement, also held at the Basilica, is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. on May 26.


Peggy Noonan offers her perspective on the 2016 presidential campaign.

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