The 2014 Commencement speaker is Jon Meacham. Jon Meacham is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Lion, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, and Franklin and Winston, former Editor of Newsweek, and Executive Vice President and Executive Editor at Random House Publishing.
Arriving at Newsweek as a writer in 1995, he became National Affairs Editor that year, was named Managing Editor in 1998 and served as Editor from 2006 until September 2010. Meacham served as co-anchor of PBS’ Need To Know, a weekly primetime news and public affairs program from 2010 to 2011. He also conducted in-depth interviews, provide commentary, published his “In Perspective” essays, and anchored occasional special reports for Need to Know, as well as other PBS programs.
As Executive Vice President and Executive Editor at the Random House Publishing Group, Meacham focuses on acquiring works of history, religion and biography and advising on a broad array of publishing opportunities, including digital initiatives. He is currently editing a book by former Vice President Al Gore and a series of e-books published by Politico on the 2012 presidential campaign, as well as working on two new books of his own.
Meacham’s latest presidential biography, the #1 New York Times bestseller Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, was published November 2012. Walter Isaacson lauded Meacham, calling the book “A true triumph. In addition to being a brilliant biography, Thomas Jefferson is a guide to the art of power…a fascinating look at how Jefferson wielded his driving desire for power and control.
His book American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House was published by Random House in November 2008. It debuted at #2 on The New York Times bestseller list and became a Times Notable Book. On April 20, 2009, American Lion was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for biography.
Meacham is also the author of two other New York Times bestsellers—American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers (2006), and the Making of a Nation and Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship (2003), about the wartime relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill. Franklin and Winston was named a Los Angeles Times book of the year and won The Churchill Centre’s 2005 Emery Reves Award for the best book of the year on Winston Churchill.
He has written for The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Slate, and The Los Angeles Times Book Review. In 2001, he editedVoices in Our Blood: America’s Best on the Civil Rights Movement (Random House), a collection of distinguished nonfiction about the mid-century struggle against Jim Crow. In 2009, Meacham was elected to the Society of American Historians and serves on its executive board. He has served as a judge for the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and was awarded the Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize by the Anti-Defamation League.
Born in Chattanooga in 1969, Meacham holds a B.A. in English Literature from The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. He now serves on the university’s governing Board of Regents. He is a “Global Leader for Tomorrow” of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a communicant of St. Thomas Episcopal Church Fifth Avenue, where he serves on the Vestry of the 180-year-old parish, and is a member of the Vestry of Trinity Church Wall Street. In 2005, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University and holds three other honorary doctorates.