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The Daily Tar Heel

New York Times columnist Frank Bruni to speak at spring Commencement

Frank Bruni, UNC Alumnus and current op-ed columnist for the New York Times, answers questions after a speech.
For UNC's 2020 Spring Commencement, Frank Bruni, a celebrated writer, journalist and critic, will deliver the keynote speech. Bruni graduated from UNC in 1986 and wrote for The Daily Tar Heel during his undergraduate career.

Joining the ranks of Brooke Baldwin, Michael Bloomberg and E.O. Wilson, Frank Bruni — bestselling author and longtime columnist for The New York Times — will be this year's keynote speaker at UNC's spring Commencement. 

Bruni graduated from UNC in 1986 and wrote for The Daily Tar Heel during his undergraduate career.

Since his days at UNC, Bruni has gained national recognition as an op-ed journalist, restaurant critic and White House correspondent. His bestselling works range from analyses of the college admissions process in the United States to collections of his own personal anecdotes.

Deb Aikat, a professor in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, said he's an admirer of Bruni's work. 

“As a journalist and social commentator, Frank Bruni has impressed us all with his perspicacious thoughts on American politics, gay rights and popular culture, among other issues,” Aikat said in an email. 

Bruni himself did not graduate with a degree in journalism — he received his bachelor’s degree in English. Susan King, dean of the Hussman School, said Bruni's invitation to speak comes at an exciting time for journalism at UNC and beyond.

“For me, it is very exciting to have a graduate who is one of the most prominent names in today’s journalism to be the speaker in 2020,” King said. “It says that journalism is alive and well, despite all the challenges. I like the notion of having someone of his stature speak. It’s affirming our whole world of journalism.”

Bruni typically writes about political topics for The Times, but his work has also featured parts of his personal life, including his own identity as an openly gay man and past struggles with eating disorders.

“I think he’s kind of a Renaissance man, and that’s what I like about him,” said Tom Linden, director of the Hussman school’s master’s program.

Senior J.P. Rickabaugh said he's looking forward to getting Bruni's advice.

“Nowadays I feel like everyone is very uncertain because things are changing so fast,” Rickabaugh said. “I’m hoping to gain some insight in some way as we are all getting ready to move out into the real world.”

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