By Patricia Brennan
LBrent Bozell III, an alumnus of the University of Dallas, will be delivering the 2015 commencement speach at this year’s graduation ceremony. Bozell is a writer, activist and national figure. He serves on the board of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, and he has contributed articles to prestigious publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The National Review.
Bozell received a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Dallas. After graduating from UD, Bozell went on to found the Media Research Center, where he now serves as president. The organization describes itself as the “nation’s premier media watchdog.” In 1998, he was named the university’s Alumnus of the Year.
“[Bozell] has taken his University of Dallas degree and used it in a matter which has brought him success,” President Thomas Keefe said, commenting on the university’s decision to select Bozell as commencement speaker. “But also he is seen as someone who influences policy and politics in this country, and I was persuaded by that [to choose him].”
Following his graduation, Bozell became a part of the National Conservative Political Action Committee, an organization that helped to elect conservative leaders on a national scale. In 2010 Bozell founded the nonprofit organization ForAmerica, which is dedicated to “restoring America to its founding principles,” according to mrc.org. To date, Bozell has written four books on the subject of news media. He is also the founder and former president of the Parents Television Council. Bozell is married with five children and four grandchildren.
Keefe described the process of selecting the commencement speaker.
“The commencement speaker is the prerogative of the president of the university, after consultation with leaders,” he said. “Students, faculty members and board members are consulted. I admit, I am particularly biased to alumni.”
While there has been an emphasis on Bozell’s politically conservative views, Keefe stated that the selection had nothing to do with which side of the political spectrum Bozell happened to fall on.
“We can go down the list of a whole number of individuals on both side[s] of the aisle. I didn’t invite him because he was conservative,” Keefe said. “I invited him because he was a graduate of the university who demonstrated his ability to take the skills that we hope students acquire here and become an important leader in this country.”
In the past, some students have expressed disappointment with the lack of student input regarding the choice of commencement speaker. However, students, faculty members and alumni were all invited to submit names for Keefe to consider, and many did. Keefe said at least half a dozen of the nominations were for Bozell. Nonetheless, according to Keefe, the decision was not just a popularity contest.
According to Keefe, Bozell embodies many of the university’s core values, especially as he has gone on to become a major figure in the world of academia and media. He seems to embody the “enthusiastically Catholic” spirit that Keefe often emphasizes at UD.
“We hope to train you, whether you’re a philosophy major, a theology major, an English major, for a career that doesn’t exist yet. That’s really our challenge,” Keefe explained. “Who would have thought, when Brent Bozell was going here decades ago, that there was going to be a Fox News and there was going to be the opportunity for dozens, if not hundreds, of commentators on the political spectrum?”
The commencement ceremony will be held on Sunday, May 17 at 9 a.m.