Past Speakers

2010
Michael B. Oren, ambassador of Israel to the United States

2009
Cory A. Booker, mayor,
Newark, N.J.

2008
William Schneider '66, political commentator

2007
Thomas Friedman '75, columnist, New York Times

2006
El Hassan bin Talal, prince of Jordan

2005
Margaret Marshall, chief justice, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

2004
James D. Wolfensohn, president, World Bank 

2003
Aharon Barak, president, Supreme Court of Israel

2002
Ted Koppel, anchor, ABC News "Nightline"

2001
Peter S. Lynch, vice chairman, Fidelity Investments

David Brooks

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David Brooks

An op-ed columnist for The New York Times since 2003, David Brooks is among the most influential centrist cultural commentators of our time, in the tradition of Mark Twain, H.L. Mencken and Tom Wolfe.

Mr. Brooks is equally at home commenting on policy and culture. On policy, he is that rare breed: a serious, thoughtful and rational centrist. On culture, he writes of how our lives are shaped not only by incentives but also by passions, values, loyalties and love — and by the demands of a competitive, globalizing world. Mr. Brooks' focus on culture has made him a strong proponent of the liberal arts. He wrote last summer, "No matter what you do in life, you will have a huge advantage if you can read a paragraph and discern its meaning (a rarer talent than you might suppose). You will have enormous power if you are the person in the office who can write a clear and concise memo."

Mr. Brooks' latest book is "The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement." In a political landscape increasingly scorched dry by partisan groupthink, Mr. Brooks is an oasis of reason, humor, empathy and creative ideas.

Honorary Degree Citation

Author, columnist, public intellectual. An op-ed columnist for The New York Times since 2003, you are among the most influential commentators of our time, in the tradition of Mark Twain, H.L. Mencken and Tom Wolfe. In commenting on policy, you are a thoughtful and rational centrist; in commenting on culture, you help us see how our lives are shaped not only by incentives but also by passions, values, loyalties, love and by the demands of a competitive, globalizing world. Your focus on culture has made you a strong proponent of the liberal arts. As you have written, “No matter what you do in life, you will have a huge advantage if you can read a paragraph and discern its meaning (a rarer talent than you might suppose). You will have enormous power if you are the person in the office who can write a clear and concise memo.” In a political landscape made arid by partisan groupthink, you are an oasis of reason, humor, empathy and creative ideas.

For the power of your intellect, your humanity and dedication to civil discourse, Brandeis University is proud to bestow upon you its highest honor.