CBS CEO Leslie Moonves ’71 to receive honorary degree, deliver keynote address


Photo Courtesy of Bucknell University Division of Communications

Leslie Moonves, President and Chief Executive Officer, CBS Corporation Photo: Bill Inoshita/CBS 2013 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Elizabeth Worthington, Assistant News Editor

After a rigorous selection process, Bucknell Student Government (BSG) Class of 2016 Congress selected Leslie (Les) Moonves ’71 to speak at the University’s 166th Commencement ceremony on May 22. Moonves is the chairman, CEO, and president of CBS Corporation. This will not be Moonves’ first visit to campus; aside from being a graduate himself, he returned in 1996 to deliver the keynote address at that year’s Commencement.

On May 13, the University also announced that Moonves will receive an honorary Doctor of Human Letters degree per his return to campus for Commencement weekend. Both an independent committee of the Board of Trustees and faculty conferred his nomination. The University received approval from the full board for Moonves’ recognition.

In October 2015, BSG 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 Andy Hirsch, Chief Communications Officer for the University, to narrow it down to the best options based on factors like availability, cost, and appropriateness.

“Bucknell is not going to have a crude comedian come here and give a Commencement talk,” President John Bravman said.

The University sought 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 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,” Connor McLaughlin ’16, BSG President of the Class of 2016, said.

During his time as a student, Moonves majored in Spanish and participated in the University’s Department of Theatre & Dance. Since graduating, he has received two awards from the University: an Academy of Artistic Achievement Award from the Bucknell Association for the Arts in 1995 and an award for Achievement in a Chosen Profession from the Bucknell Alumni Association in 2002.

Moonves has since enjoyed a successful career in the television and media business. After serving in leadership roles with multiple corporations, including 20th Century Fox Television, Moonves became president of Lorimar Television in 1990 and then president and CEO of Warner Bros. Television in 1993. After becoming president of CBS Entertainment, he achieved his current role as president and CEO of CBS Television in 1998.

Credited with green-lighting hit shows like “Friends” and “ER” on Warner Bros., and “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Survivor,” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” on CBS, Moonves was inducted as a member of the Television Hall of Fame and the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame. During Moonves’ time as president, CBS has enjoyed the status as America’s Most Watched Network for 13 of the last 14 years.

McLaughlin said that the Class of 2016 greatly looks forward to having Moonves as Commencement speaker.

“Moonves will undoubtedly impart words of wisdom that resonate with both our class and the Bucknell community at large,” McLaughlin said.

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