Newman calls on grads to seize ‘greatness’

Under the caps and gowns of today’s graduates stand the leaders of the most consequential generation in more than a century, says broadcast journalist Kevin Newman.

The former Global National news anchor returned to his alma mater to speak to 526 graduates from the faculties of Arts & Humanities, Information and Media Studies, Don Wright Faculty of Music and School of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies at the Monday, June 13 morning session of The University of Western Ontario’s 297th Convocation.

Western conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws upon Newman in recognition of his skills as a distinguished national and international journalist.

“Believe it or not, it was precisely 30 years ago I sat where you are today. I remember this moment sneaking up on me,” he says. “Everything I had done for as long as I could remember was aimed at this – the day my formal education ended.

“In an instant the rhythm of my life changed forever.”

It all began at Western where Newman, while earning a BA in political science, became the first news director at CHRW. He worked on Mustang football broadcasts. Newman went on to become the anchor and executive editor of the flagship newscast, Global National, which he successfully guided from 2001 to 2010.

While serving as a parliamentary correspondent, bureau chief, co-anchor and anchor, he has pursued his craft in prominent venues: CTV News on CBC’s The National and CBC Midday; Global News; and ABC News in New York on World News Tonight, Good Morning America, World News Now and Nightline. He is the recipient of three Emmy Awards, two Gemini Awards and both a Peabody Award and Edward R. Murrow Award.

The graduates of today are going to be the innovators and revolutionaries of tomorrow, he says.

“My generation and the one that followed were mostly builders of wealth and set the stage for innovation. But you seize greatness,” he says. “You believe it is your right to change things. As a generation, you have been praised a lot in your formative years, and it has made you confident. You think nothing of challenging the hierarchies before you.”

In his citation, Faculty of Information and Media Studies dean Tom Carmichael says Newman recently described himself as “a news junkie who once hung out perilously close to where the hot steam escapes from the pressure cooker of network TV news.”

Now, after stepping away from Global National, he speaks to the importance of putting stories together in a broader context. But that is nothing new for Newman, who has sought that context throughout his career.

“It is in that spirit that he has been an exemplary alumnus of this university, speaking to alumni groups in Canada and abroad, lecturing on campus, participating in panels and forums and speaking out on the formative importance and lifelong value of a liberal arts degree and the university experience, particularly, his own experience at Western,” Carmichael says. “A reflective citizen in the age of the image, a forward-looking digital native with a deep interest in historically grounded social concerns and a celebrated member of the deeply democratic profession of journalism, Kevin Newman is to be honoured for his integrity, his commitments and his achievements.”

Also during the ceremony, Faculty of Arts and Humanities professor Christopher Keep and Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS) professor Tim Blackmore were honoured with The Edward G. Pleva Award for Excellence in Teaching.

The status of professor emerita was conferred upon FIMS professor Gloria Leckie and Faculty of Music professor Sandra Mangsen, and professor emeritus status was conferred on Arts and Humanities professor John Nicholas and Music professor Richard Parks.

Librarian emeritus status was conferred on John Lutman.

Click here to watch the live broadcast of Western’s convocation ceremonies June 13-17.