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CBS News President To Keynote Cronkite School Graduation

CBS News President David Rhodes will deliver the keynote graduation address next month at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University officials said today.

The announcement comes the day after the 50th anniversary of Cronkite’s first appearance as anchor of the CBS Evening News.

“It is a tremendous gift to our graduating students to be able to hear from one of today’s most important journalism leaders, and it is particularly appropriate as both Walter’s network and Walter’s school celebrate his 50th anniversary,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan.

Cronkite served as anchor and managing editor of the network’s nightly newscast from April 16, 1962, to March 6, 1981. Three years later, the journalism program at ASU was named in his honor. Over the following quarter-century, Cronkite made annual visits to the school, meeting with students, talking with faculty and personally bestowing the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism on a journalism luminary. The first Cronkite Award winners were CBS founder William Paley and former CBS President Frank Stanton in 1984.

Under Cronkite’s guidance and vision, the school rose to national prominence. Today more than 1,300 students study in downtown Phoenix at the Cronkite building, a 225,000-square foot state-of-the-art multimedia complex that is home to Cronkite NewsWatch, a 30-minute nightly newscast that airs statewide on Arizona PBS, Cronkite News Service, a daily multimedia news service with bureaus in Phoenix and Washington, the New Media Innovation Lab and the Carnegie-Knight News21 digital media program. Faculty members include former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. and former CNN anchor Aaron Brown.

Cronkite students have finished first nationally in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence competition for six consecutive years and have the best record in the Hearst Journalism Awards over that time.

Rhodes, who was named president of CBS News in February 2011, oversees all network news operations, including “CBS Evening News,” “CBS This Morning,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” “Face the Nation, “48 Hours Mystery,” CBSNews.com and CBS News Radio.

A New York native, Rhodes started his journalism career in 1996 as a production assistant at Fox NewsChannel and rose to vice president of news. During his 12 years at Fox, he led the political news team, edited international coverage of global hot spots such as Afghanistan and Iraq and directed coverage of Hurricane Katrina and other major events. He was a Fox News Channel assignment manager in New York on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

In November 2008, the Rice University graduate joined Bloomberg’s multimedia group as head of U.S. television. He was responsible for programming, development, editorial, newsgathering, production and operations.

Rhodes will deliver his convocation address on May 4 at Grady Gammage Auditorium, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed venue on ASU’s Tempe campus.