Ted Koppel, one of the nation’s most highly respected and honored television journalists, will be the featured speaker at Undergraduate Commencement.
Koppel’s legendary work on ABC News’ “Nightline” defined modern television journalism by conducting the first live interviews on a daily basis with newsmakers across the globe, beginning with the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979. As anchor and managing editor, his reporting touched on every major news story for 25 years, making him the longest-serving news anchor in network history. Currently, he is a special correspondent with “Rock Center with Brian Williams” on NBC.
UMass Amherst Chancellor Robert Holub said Koppel is an excellent choice to inspire graduates. “Ted Koppel worked his way to the pinnacle of his profession and has reported on some of the most important events in the last half century. Throughout it all, he has been a calm and reasoned reporter of facts and an insightful observer of human behavior during the most stressful periods of our collective history. He has earned the trust of his colleagues and the respect of his audience with his extraordinary professionalism and skill.”
Koppel’s broadcasting career spans half a century, and he has been honored with every major professional recognition. He left “Nightline” in November 2005 and was named managing editor of the Discovery Channel, anchoring and producing long-form programming that examined major global events. In addition to his “Rock Center” role, he currently contributes to NPR’s “Talk of the Nation.”
He began his broadcasting career as an NBC news page and then took a job at WMCA Radio, New York. In 1963, Koppel joined ABC Radio News as a correspondent for its daily Flair Reports program, where one of his first assignments was to cover the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Koppel moved to television in 1966 when reporting on the Vietnam War. During his 42 years at ABC News, Koppel also worked as anchor of “The ABC Saturday Night News,” chief diplomatic correspondent, Vietnam War correspondent and Hong Kong bureau chief. He has also had a major reporting role in every presidential campaign since 1964.
Koppel’s broadcasting honors include the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award, 41 Emmy Awards, eight George Foster Peabody Awards, 10 duPont-Columbia Awards, 10 Overseas Press Club Awards, two George Polk Awards and two Sigma Delta Chi Awards, the highest honor bestowed for public service by the Society of Professional Journalists. Among his other tributes are the first Gold Baton in the history of the duPont-Columbia Awards for “Nightline’s” weeklong series originating from South Africa, the Gabriel Personal Achievement Award from the National Catholic Association of Broadcasters and Communicators and selection as a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the Republic of France. He has received more than 20 honorary degrees from universities in the United States.
A native of Lancashire, England, Koppel moved to the United States with his parents when he was 13 years old and became a U.S. citizen in 1963. He holds a bachelor of science degree from Syracuse University and a master’s degree in mass communications research and political science from Stanford University.
Koppel is married to Grace Anne Dorney of New York City. They live in Maryland, and have four children and seven grandchildren.