Commencement Cameo

—Illustrations by Julia Rothman

Illustration of Barbara Walters with President Karen R. Lawrence at Commencement 2014

Commencement 2014 was full of surprises. First, President Lawrence announced that alumna Barbara Walters has agreed to donate her tapes, transcripts, photographs, and papers to Sarah Lawrence, establishing the Barbara Walters Archive. Then the pioneering journalist herself appeared on stage and, after thunderous applause, congratulated the graduates. Commencement-goers, of course, were thrilled—as is the College, which will become a site for scholarly research in broadcast journalism with the arrival of Walters’ papers.

“Some years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Vladimir Putin. After I asked him a number of foreign policy questions, which he expected, I asked my last question. (If you have to do a list of questions and you’re worried about the toughest one, make it the last, in case he walks out, okay?) So my last question was, ‘As a member of the KGB, have you ever killed anyone?’ Don’t ask this of everyone. He said, ‘No, that was not my department.’

“Later, several people said, ‘Where did you get the nerve to ask a question like that?’ And I said, ‘It’s easy. I went to a college where I was not afraid to ask questions.’ So I thank Sarah Lawrence for that. I have been asking questions ever since my graduation, and this is one more chance, today, to say ‘thank you’ to this college I love.”

Illustration of graduates and their families at Commencement 2014