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Washington Post Editor Baron Named 2020 Harvard Commencement Speaker

Harvard typically holds Commencement exercises in Tercentenary Theater, pictured here in 2016.
Harvard typically holds Commencement exercises in Tercentenary Theater, pictured here in 2016. By Helen Y. Wu
By Michelle G. Kurilla and Ruoqi Zhang, Crimson Staff Writers

Washington Post executive editor Martin “Marty” Baron will travel to Cambridge this May to speak at Harvard’s 369th commencement ceremony on May 28, according to a University statement released Tuesday.

As top editor at the Post, Baron manages the paper’s news operations and staff. Holding top jobs in several newspapers over his more than 40-year career, Baron’s has led teams to 16 Pulitzer Prizes, according to the press release.

Last year, under Baron’s guidance, the Post published the “Afghanistan Papers,” an investigation that detailed previously undisclosed malpractice by United States government officials who supervised America’s military involvement in the Middle Eastern country.

Before he began his current position at the Post, Baron served as the executive editor of the Boston Globe for more than 11 years. There, he oversaw the newspaper’s investigation on sexual abuses by Catholic priests in Boston, for which the Globe won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

Before he joined the Globe, Baron served as an editor at the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Miami Herald.

Born in 1954 and raised in Tampa, Fla., Baron started his journalism career at the Miami Herald as a reporter in 1976.

University President Lawrence S. Bacow said the University looks forward to welcoming him to campus for Commencement in the press release Tuesday.

“Marty Baron has led some of our nation’s most respected newspapers through a transformative time for American journalism,” Bacow said. “His distinguished career bespeaks a deep commitment to the pursuit of truth and to the vital role of a free press in a democratic society. We look forward to welcoming him here on Commencement Day.”

President of the Harvard Alumni Association Alice E. Hill ’81 called Baron a “bold and decisive leader.”

“For decades, Marty Baron has pursued truth and tirelessly championed the role of journalism in enabling healthy democracy and fact-based discourse and debate on critical issues around the world,” Hill said. “A bold and decisive leader in his field, Marty’s distinguished career has been marked by determination, integrity, and a willingness to listen to the powerless and too-often voiceless. He will both inspire and engage our graduating students, Harvard alumni, and our entire community.”

Baron will also receive an honorary degree from the University in May.

Baron’s selection comes shortly after the University announced last week that Koma Gandy Fischbein ’95, a decorated United States Navy veteran, was elected chief marshal for this year’s commencement ceremony.

Gandy Fischbein will lead the alumni procession at the annual meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association and host a lunch in Widener Library on May 28, according to a University press release sent Thursday. Previous chief marshals have included former U.S. poet laurate Tracy K. Smith ’64 and former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan ’86.

Gandy Fischbein earned several awards during her service in the Iraq War, including a Navy Commendation Medal and three Navy Achievement Medals. In addition to her military service, Gandy Fischbein was the first woman to coach the All Navy Men’s Rugby team.

Gandy Fischbein said in the press release that she is honored to receive the position.

“I am humbled to receive this honor from so many distinguished classmates,” Fischbein said. “I look forward to returning to Tercentenary Theatre for this momentous day to celebrate all of our journeys, especially those just beginning for the Class of 2020.”

—Staff writer Michelle G. Kurilla can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MichelleKurilla.

—Staff writer Ruoqi Zhang can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RuoqiZhang3.

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