On May 15, the Colgate Class of 2011 will don their caps and gowns and be recognized for their academic, athletic, social and philanthropic successes. Journalist Howard Fineman ’70, will deliver the commencement address to the class.
Fineman is currently the editorial director of the Huffington Post Media Group, which was recently acquired by America Online (AOL). With this merger, it is estimated that the company has an audience of over 250 million people worldwide.
Prior to this position, he held several positions at Newsweek magazine, including reporter, columnist, senior editor and Deputy Washington Bureau Chief. Fineman wrote many articles and columns for Newsweek. His writing has also been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post and the New Republic. He also had the distinction of interviewing every presidential candidate since 1985, in addition to many notable leaders in the business and entertainment worlds.
Fineman is also a regular political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, and makes regular appearances on several NBC and MSNBC shows, including Hardball with Chris Matthews and Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. Fineman is the author of the best-selling book The Thirteen American Arguments.
While at Colgate, Fineman was editor-in-chief of the Maroon, a recipient of a Watson Traveling Fellowship, and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.
“I benefited from the classes I took and the professors I had [at Colgate], especially in the English, History and Philosophy departments,” Fineman said. “I draw on the habits for thinking and the substantive knowledge I gained at Colgate all the time.”
“There were a few notable professors whom I appreciated,” Fineman said. “Frederick Busch, who taught literature writing, Raymond Rockwood, who taught history (and with whom I went on a history study group to London) and Jerry Balmuth, a philosophy professor who’s still teaching today. Professor Balmuth taught me the power of words: not descriptive or narrative (those I learned from Professors Bush and Rockwood), but the moral, political force of words.”
Following graduation, Fineman earned an M.S. from Columbia where he received a prestigious Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship. He began his journalism career with the Courier-Journal, based in Kentucky, and during this time, received a J.D. law degree from the University of Louisville.
“It’s the honor of a lifetime to speak at Commencement,” Fineman said. “Colgate became my home when I went there and had everything to do with the opportunities I later had. I care about the place, the people I have known and who have educated me. It’s wonderful logic for an alum; and it happens to be that I get to do what any alum would want to do: speak at Commencement.”
The Baccalaureate speaker will be Reverend Maria Scates, who is the founder and director of the Johnson Park Center in Utica. The center focuses on transitional housing, job training and reentry programs. Scates has instilled much faith in, and given many opportunities to, members of Colgate’s extended community.
Honorary degree recipients will also be celebrated in May. Recipients include Irene Brown, the founder of the Community Action Partnership of Madison County and of the Lifelong Learning Program (which involves cooperation between both Colgate and the Hamilton Community); J. Christopher Clifford ’67, the outgoing chair of the Board of Trustees and strong supporter of the Hamilton Initiative, Passion for the Climb and the Campaign for Colgate; Dr. Frans de Waal, a professor at Emory University who is nationally respected for his literature and research on the social intelligence of primates; Robert H.N. Ho ’56, who is a trustee emeritus and founder of the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation, which is a supporter and developer of cross-cultural programs; and General Thomas R. Morgan, USMC (Ret.) ’52, who is the highest-ranking Colgate alum in the U.S. military.
“I hope, in my commencement speech, to celebrate the graduates and the school,” Fineman said. “In doing that, I also want to advise the graduates to cherish what they have, and what they’ve been given through their Colgate education.”