Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, will speak at the 2019 Commencement ceremony in May. The Atlantic is an award-winning national print and online magazine that Goldberg has run since 2016.
Barbara McCort, senior associate director of University Events and Commencement, explained in a statement to The News-Letter why University officials chose Goldberg as the Commencement speaker.
“When selecting a speaker, Johns Hopkins seeks to identify someone who will inspire graduates from all of our schools, offering insight and advice that our students can carry forward into whatever next steps they’ve chosen, and who reflects the values of the university,” McCort wrote. “In his career, Jeff Goldberg has devoted himself to the pursuit of truth for the greater good, something our students also hold dear.”
Senior Sasha Gorelik agreed with McCort. She hopes that Goldberg’s speech will be a learning experience for the Class of 2019.
“I’m excited to hopefully hear his insights on the current state of our society, where we are headed and how higher education can shape the future of the world we live in,” she said.
Senior Akshay Bhamidipati added that Goldberg will be an especially relevant figure in today’s political environment.
“[Goldberg] represents a beacon of truth in an era of misinformation and partisan news. He’s a highly accomplished journalist and eloquent writer,” Bhamidipati said. “I’m sure everyone will leave graduation feeling motivated.”
Before becoming editor-in-chief, Goldberg worked at The Atlantic for nine years, specializing in foreign affairs. In a video posted on the commencement website, Goldberg described The Atlantic’s national role.
“The Atlantic is one of America’s oldest magazines, it’s America’s preeminent magazine of ideas. This is one of the last places in America where you’ll find Republicans and Democrats arguing civilly with each other,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg’s reporting centers around the Middle East, most notably his book Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror describes his time as a guard for the largest prison camp in Israel and his friendship with a rising leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Publications, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, named it one of the best books of 2006. Goldberg also won the National Magazine Award for reporting in 2003 for his examination of Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group.
Additionally, he has also worked on national security and has conducted interviews with notable political figures including former President Barack Obama, 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, former British Prime Minister David Cameron and former Secretary of State John Kerry.
As an International Studies major, senior Séamus Ryan-Johnson appreciates Goldberg’s contributions to foreign affairs and looks forward to his speech.
“It’s fantastic that Hopkins has decided to bring in a voice that understands our nation’s international position. Though we face our own internal strife… we must be united in how we represent our position in the world. The 2016 presidential elections marked a pivot in U.S. foreign policy,” he said. “Goldberg is the first voice famed for international concern that Hopkins has brought in as commencement speaker since the election, and because of that, I am curious and excited to hear what he has to say.”
Senior Dimitri Simes echoed Ryan-Johnson’s sentiments, adding that listening to Goldberg speak would also be a good opportunity for aspiring journalists.
“As a young journalist, I’m very interested in hearing what the editor-in-chief of a major magazine has to say,” Simes said.
McCort explained that the University chose the 2019 Commencement ceremony based on online nominations that were submitted by students, faculty, alumni, staff and friends of the University. Next, McCort stated, a committee including University President Ronald J. Daniels, other University officials and several trustees reviewed the nominations and made recommendations. Finally, she wrote, the Board of Trustees made their selection.
She added that through the selection process, the University officials who were involved hoped to find someone with unique insight to share with the graduating class.
“As editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, he is working to ensure that this storied publication continues, in its print and digital formats, to use thorough research and fact-based reporting to help readers better understand the world’s most pressing issues from multiple and diverse viewpoints,” McCort wrote. “We look forward to the perspective Mr. Goldberg will share with our students to help them navigate and embrace the future.”