Columbia College announced today that the Executive Editor of The New York Times, Dean Baquet, will deliver the keynote address at the 2016 Columbia College Class Day ceremony. The annual event, which honors graduating seniors, will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, on the South Lawns of Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus.
Baquet was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 1988 for his coverage of corruption in the Chicago City Council, and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for investigative reporting in 1994. He has received numerous local and regional awards, including the College’s 2006 John Jay Award for Distinguished Professional Achievement.
“We are so glad that Dean Baquet has accepted our invitation to speak to the graduating class of 2016,” said James J. Valentini, dean of Columbia College and vice president for Undergraduate Education. “Dean came to the College as an English major, pursued his passion outside of the classroom, and went on to become an accomplished journalist and the leader of one of the country’s most important newspapers. All of us - especially our student journalists - are looking forward to welcoming him back to campus for Class Day.”
Baquet came to Columbia from New Orleans, where his father owned a restaurant. He began reading newspapers at an early age to follow his favorite football team, the New Orleans Saints, and in high school, he wrote fictional stories for his school newspaper. A summer internship after his sophomore year at the States-Item, an afternoon paper in New Orleans, furthered his love for journalism and Baquet subsequently left Columbia for a full-time reporting position.
Baquet first joined The New York Times in 1990 as a metropolitan reporter and, in 1992, became special projects editor for the business desk and, in 1995, the newspaper’s national editor. He previously served as associate metropolitan editor for investigations and chief investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune, covering corruption in politics and the garbage-hauling industry, and as a reporter at The Times-Picayune in New Orleans.
Baquet lives in Manhattan with his wife, Dylan Landis BC’78, a writer; they have a grown son, Ari, who is pursuing a doctorate in physical therapy at the University of Southern California.