Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and President of CBS Corporation Leslie (Les) Moonves ’71 will speak at the 166th Commencement ceremony on May 22. This will be the second time that Moonves delivers a keynote address at the University; his first was in 1996, precisely 20 years ago.
In October of last semester, the Bucknell Student Government (BSG) Class of 2016 Congress began formulating a list of potential speakers through both surveying the entire Class of 2016 to solicit suggestions and receiving guidance from the University. In generating a list of viable candidates, the officers met with Chief Communications Officer Andy Hirsch to narrow it down to the best options based on a variety of factors, including availability, cost, and appropriateness.
“Bucknell is not going have a crude comedian come here and give a commencement talk,” Bravman said.
According to Connor McLaughlin ’16, BSG President of the Class of 2016, Moonves was included on the finalized list both because “he has achieved tremendous success in his professional career, and thus can speak informatively to our graduating class about how to achieve similar success in our own careers,” and because “there was a strong desire to see a Bucknell alum speak at Commencement this year.”
In choosing the speaker, the University looked for a balance between someone who is eloquent, yet also has something thoughtful to say.
“We want someone who is accomplished, and has the ability to communicate in some effective way. So if a great communicator has nothing to say, we are not going to have [him or her] as a commencement speaker,” Bravman said.
Moonves majored in Spanish and participated in the theatre department as student at the University. He quickly rose to success in the television industry, taking on leadership roles for multiple corporations until he settled into his current role with CBS in 2006. He now boasts a spot in the Television Hall of Fame in addition to heading a $30 billion organization that employs more than 20,000 individuals.
“In this case it was easy [to choose a Commencement speaker] because he was on our list, he was high on our list, and he’s someone we would love to have come back to campus,” Bravman said.
Moonves serves as a perfect example for the opportunities that a liberal arts education can provide for graduates.
“I love the fact that he majored in Spanish and did a lot of theatre work, and ended up running one of the largest conglomerates in the world. I think that’s a real testament to what a school like Bucknell can offer,” Bravman said.
McLaughlin called Moonves’ career path following college “remarkable.”
“I think it shows that it’s not so much the content of what we’re all learning that is important, but rather the acquisition of critical thinking, problem solving, and various other skills that can be applied in the workplace later in our careers,” McLaughlin said.