Bret Stephens, AB’95, named UChicago’s 2023 Class Day speaker

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist to address College students during Convocation weekend

New York Times opinion columnist Bret Stephens, AB’95, has been named the invited speaker for the University of Chicago’s Class Day ceremony on Friday, June 2. The tradition marks the start of Convocation weekend and will celebrate the numerous accomplishments of graduating students in the College. 

Stephens received the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary for his Global View column in The Wall Street Journal, which examined foreign policy and domestic politics. In 2019, he was presented an Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which celebrates Americans working for the betterment of our country and its citizens. He is also a founder of the Renew Democracy Initiative, an organization dedicated to strengthening the principles of liberal democracy at home and abroad.  

“The University of Chicago taught me the importance of intellectual humility, and I am honored to share my experiences with the Class of 2023,” said Stephens. “My time at UChicago showed me that there’s always more that can be learned, always someone to learn from. Those ‘someones’ were everywhere on campus, and to this day, the memory of my time in the College fills me with extreme gratitude.” 

During his time in the College, Stephens completed his bachelor’s degree in Fundamentals: Issues and Texts and dedicated much of his time to studying. Foreshadowing his career in opinion writing and articulating his polarizing critiques of American politics, Stephens reveled in spirited classroom debates with his professors and classmates and gained his first experience in professional journalism interning with The Times. He recalls the profound impact his professors had on him and in shaping his graduate work and career.  

Stephens remains connected to UChicago today as a member of the advisory board for the Institute of Politics.  

Stephens said he remembers Dean of the College John W. Boyer’s opening speech to his first-year class, which emphasized that each person in the room belonged there, and that they were entering an extraordinary enterprise in the acquisition, creation and dissemination of knowledge. 

“Bret is one of the most insightful voices in American journalism today. His commitment to follow arguments to their deepest assumptions and bases, and his strong support for the public deliberation of ideas, captures in a resounding way the University’s commitment to free expression,” Boyer said. “We are excited to welcome Bret back to campus and to acknowledge the diverse achievements of this year’s graduating class.” 

Class Day will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, June 2, on the Main Quadrangles. Please visit the Class Day page for the latest information about the ceremony.