Jill Abramson, former executive editor of The New York Times, will deliver Wake Forest University’s commencement address on Monday, May 19.
Abramson served in the highest-ranking position in The Times’ newsroom and oversaw its news content in all its various forms. Prior to being named the newspaper’s first female executive editor, Abramson was managing editor from 2003 until 2011. During this time, she helped supervise the coverage of two wars, four national elections, and devastating events such as Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. She was also deeply engaged in the newsroom’s effort to change its approach to the dissemination of news and to expand to new and varied digital and mobile platforms.
“In an industry undergoing monumental change, Jill Abramson’s ability to manage and evolve one of the most widely read and respected news outlets demonstrates the need for creative and visionary leaders,” said President Nathan O. Hatch. “Her significant achievements as a journalistic pioneer provide a stellar example for Wake Forest graduates as they prepare to embark on their own journeys.”
Abramson joined The New York Times in 1997. She was named Washington bureau chief in December 2000 and served in that position until July 2003. Prior to joining The Times, she worked at The Wall Street Journal from 1988 to 1997. While there, she served as the deputy Washington, D.C. bureau chief and as an investigative reporter, covering money and politics.
The co-author of “Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas,” a non-fiction finalist for the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award in 1994, and “Where They Are Now: The Story of the Women of Harvard Law 1974,” published in 1986, she is also the author of “The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout,” published in 2011.
Abramson is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The American Philosophical Society and has taught writing at Princeton and Yale Universities.
Also joining Wake Forest for the commencement weekend will be Baccalaureate speaker Melissa Rogers, special assistant to the President and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
“Melissa Rogers is committed to exploring religion’s role in public life. In her work for the White House, she serves as a guide helping to navigate the sometimes difficult pathways where issues of church and state intersect,” Hatch said. “She is dedicated to helping identify common ground among people who are working together on the challenges facing our nation by promoting partnerships to help people in need. We are delighted to welcome her back to Wake Forest.”
Rogers formerly served as director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs at Wake Forest University School of Divinity and as a nonresident senior fellow in the governance studies program of The Brookings Institution. Prior to her time with Wake Forest University and Brookings, Rogers was the executive director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.
In 2008, Baylor University Press published a casebook co-authored by Rogers, “Religious Freedom and the Supreme Court.” In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Rogers to serve as chair of his inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In 2011, she was named to a subgroup of the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group.