Hobart and William Smith Colleges Trustee Bill Whitaker ’73, L.H.D. ’97, an Emmy award-winning veteran of CBS News and a correspondent for “60 Minutes,” will join Homecoming and Family Weekend as the special guest of the President’s Forum Series happening in Albright Auditorium on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 11 a.m.
Whitaker will engage in a conversation facilitated by President Mark D. Gearan and HWS Presidential Fellow and Ithaca Mayor Svante L. Myrick, and will take questions from the audience.
Lauded for his work as a journalist, Whitaker has covered major national and international news stories throughout his career. In 2014, he joined “60 Minutes,” CBS’s acclaimed newsmagazine television program, recently covering race relations in Cleveland following the shooting of Tamir Rice, the biggest leak in Swiss banking history, and the American Ballet Theatre’s first black principal dancer, Misty Copeland.
Whitaker is a graduate of Hobart College and has been a member of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Board of Trustees for 14 years. His successful career in television journalism has led him around the world, where he has covered many of the major breaking news events and issues of the day, including the pro-democracy uprising in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the Persian Gulf War, the Unabomber case, the O.J. Simpson murder and civil trials, the Columbine school shootings, and the presidential campaign of George W. Bush. Whitaker also has covered many of the recent historic events such as Nelson Mandela’s memorial services, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti and immigration issues on the United States-Mexico border.
In 1989, Whitaker received an Emmy Award for a segment he did for “48 Hours” and was honored at the Minorities in Broadcasting Program seventh annual “Striving for Excellence Awards.” Whitaker has remained closely connected to his Geneva alma mater, advising students and hosting events. In 1997, he was awarded an honorary degree by the Colleges for his service. He holds a master’s degree from Boston University in African-American studies and also attended the master of journalism program at the University of California at Berkeley.
The President’s Forum Series, established in the winter of 2000 by Gearan, is designed to bring a variety of speakers to campus to share their knowledge and ideas with students, faculty and staff of the Colleges, as well as with interested community members. The important politicians, intellectuals and social activists who visit campus as President’s Forum guest speakers expose the Colleges and the local community to a continual flow and exchange of challenging topical issues. Recent guests include Susan Brison, Mary Matalin and James Carville, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, Michael Kimmel and the Honorable Shireen Avis Fisher ’70.
Myrick, himself a recent President’s Forum speaker, was sworn into office in 2012 as the City of Ithaca’s youngest mayor and first mayor of color. When he took office as mayor, he inherited a $3 million deficit. His first budget included a major overhaul of city government that merged departments and streamlined processes, all while delivering Ithaca’s lowest tax increase since 2000. In his first year of office, his advocacy in Albany and in Washington, D.C., resulted in more than $20 million of grants and awards from state and federal governments. By the end of Myrick’s second year in office, his budget had successfully closed the deficit. In 2014, he was appointed the HWS Presidential Fellow for Civic Engagement.
Whitaker’s President’s Forum lecture is free and open to the public.