Dan Rather wraps up inaugural season of the New Jersey Speakers Series


By Andrew McKay

“We’ve been informed, entertained, sometimes provoked but surely always enlightened,” said FDU President Sheldon Drucker, wrapping up the inaugural 2014-15 season of the New Jersey Speakers Series on April 23 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. “It’s been an incredible opening season and we were thrilled you were able to join us,” said Drucker, thanking series subscribers.

The final installment of the season featured former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather, who spoke about his life and career in broadcast journalism.

“What you are looking is a reporter who got lucky,” Rather said, describing the opportunities he had to cover world events.

Rather anchored the “CBS Evening News” for 24 years, from 1981 to 2005. During this time, he also contributed to CBS’s “60 Minutes.” Rather is now the managing editor and anchor of the cable television news magazine “Dan Rather Reports.” In 2012, he released his bestseller, “Rather Outspoken.”

Rather2Above: FDU President Sheldon Drucker opens the program and welcomes the audience. (Photos by Michael Paras)

He detailed his experiences covering a range of historical events and stories including the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam War, Watergate and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, among others. Additionally, he touched upon issues of globalization and campaign finance, and addressed the controversy surrounding his departure from CBS.

Speaking of “the two most influential people I’ve met over more than 60 years in journalism,” Rather highlighted the work of Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa. Of Mandela, Rather said, “He spoke of forgiveness with a depth that I have never heard before or since.”

Rather fielded audience questions about a variety of subjects including the Brian Williams controversy and his experiences covering Abu Ghraib and the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Steve Scott, news anchor for WCBS Newsradio 880 AM, one of the University’s media partners for the series, introduced the lecture and moderated the question and answer session.

rather3Above: Dan Rather (right) with FDU student Christopher Shupenko (left) and Chris Rasmussen, associate professor of history, political and international studies.

Previous speakers in the 2014-15 inaugural season included former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, award-winning actor Alan Alda, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe and Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough.

The 2015-16 season of the New Jersey Speakers Series begins with Former CIA Director and U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on October 8, 2015, followed by neurosurgeon and CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta (October 29, 2015), award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns (November 19, 2015), international activist and author Ayaan Hirsi Ali (January 28, 2016), long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad (February 18, 2016),  Frank Abagnale, the subject of the Steven Spielberg movie “Catch Me If You Can” (March 17, 2016), and theoretical physicist and futurist Michio Kaku (April 14, 2016).

The 2014-15 New Jersey Speakers Series, presented by Fairleigh Dickinson University, was sponsored by Hollister Construction Services, PNC Bank, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, WCBS Newsradio, The Star-Ledger and Prestige Automotive Group. For subscriptions to the 2015-16 season or information, visit www.NJSpeakersSeries.org, or call 1-888-MY-NJPAC or 1-888-696-5722.