“During her distinguished career, Dorothy Wickenden has demonstrated a diligence and fearlessness in pursuing important news that reflects the Colleges’ values of intellectual rigor, integrity and citizenship,” says Interim President Patrick A. McGuire L.H.D. ’12. “Under her leadership, The New Yorker has played a critical role in elevating public discourse on vital issues, from national politics and foreign affairs to the #MeToo movement. She is an accomplished journalist, author, and executive whose experience makes her uniquely suited to address the world into which our seniors will graduate.”
This year celebrates the 194th Commencement of Hobart College and the 108th Commencement of William Smith College. The ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 19 on the Hobart Quadrangle.
Before joining The New Yorker, Wickenden spent 15 years at The New Republic, first as managing editor and later as executive editor. Wickenden went on to serve as national affairs editor of Newsweek before moving to The New Yorker in 1995. In addition to her role as executive editor, which she has held since 1996, she is the moderator of The New Yorker‘s weekly podcast, “The Political Scene.”
In 2011, Wickenden published Nothing Daunted, a New York Times bestseller that traces the westward journey of Rosamund Underwood and Dorothy Woodruff, Wickenden’s grandmother. NPR’s Fresh Air said of the book: “Wickenden summons up the last moments of frontier life, where books were a luxury and, when blizzards hit, homesteaders’ children would ski miles to school on curved barrel staves…. Nothing Daunted also reminds us that different strains of courage can be found, not just on the battlefield but on the home front, too.”
Wickenden has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and and The New Yorker. She is the editor of The New Republic Reader: Eighty Years of Opinion and Debate, a compilation of the best work from some of the magazine’s top contributors, including George Orwell, Rebecca West, John Dewey, Arthur M. Schlesinger, and many others.
Wickenden has served on the faculty of The Writer’s Institute at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City, and she is a member of the final selection committee for The Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.
Wickenden graduated from William Smith magna cum laude as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, earning her B.A. in English with high honors. She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in 1988. She served as a member of the Colleges’ Board of Trustees from 1994-1998. She received the President’s Medal at Hobart and William Smith in 2006, and in 2014, an honorary doctorate from the Colleges. In 2015, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Iona College. In November 2018, she was a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, where she worked on her forthcoming book, The Agitators: How Three Friends Fought for Abolition and Women’s Rights, and Hastened the Civil War’s New Birth of Freedom.