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Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. to speak at Wake Forest's 2008 graduation

February 27, 2008

E.J. Dionne Jr., a columnist for the Washington Post, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and professor at Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute, will deliver Wake Forest University’s 2008 commencement address May 19.

The outdoor ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. on Wake Forest’s Hearn Plaza.

The Right Reverend Vashti M. McKenzie, presiding prelate of the 13th Episcopal District and president of the Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, will deliver the baccalaureate address at 11 a.m. May 18 in Wait Chapel.  The commencement and baccalaureate ceremonies are not open to the general public.

Dionne began writing his column for the Washington Post in 1993, and it is syndicated to more than 100 other newspapers.  He appears regularly as a political commentator on national radio and television shows and his articles have been published in major magazines and journals.

"In this election year, it is fitting that we hear from one of our nation’s foremost thinkers and writers about the political scene,” said Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch.  “E.J. Dionne asks his readers and listeners to rise above partisanship, slogans and simplistic solutions to engage in thoughtful policy debates about our nation’s future.  I look forward to what promises to be a timely and memorable address.”

After graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University in 1973, Dionne earned his doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.  He spent 14 years with The New York Times reporting on politics, and his assignments took him to posts around the world, including Paris, Rome and Beirut.  At the Brookings Institution, he edits and co-edits a variety of publications.  He has received numerous honors, including the American Political Science Association’s Carey McWilliams Award, recognizing a major journalistic contribution to the understanding of politics; and the Empathy Award from the Volunteers of America.  The National Journal named Dionne among the 25 most influential Washington journalists, and Washingtonian magazine ranked him in its list of the top 50 journalists.

Dionne is the author of “Why Americans Hate Politics,” which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was nominated for a National Book Award; “They Only Look Dead: Why Progressives Will Dominate the Next Political Era;” “Stand Up and Fight Back: Republican Toughs, Democratic Wimps, and the Politics of Revenge;” and “Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics After the Religious Right,” just published in January.

McKenzie is the highest-ranking woman in the A.M.E. denomination and the first woman elected to lead its Council of Bishops.  She previously served as chief pastor of the 18th Episcopal District in Southeast Africa, where she undertook an ambitious development program that started 37 new churches, constructed numerous buildings, opened computer labs in schools, provided scholarships to students and helped launch entrepreneurial businesses.

She is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park, holds a Master of Divinity degree from Howard University School of Divinity and earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.  McKenzie is the author of four books, “Not Without a Struggle,” “Strength in the Struggle,” “Journey to the Well,"and "Swapping Housewives: Rachel and Jacob and Leah."

Note to editors: Members of the media are invited to cover Dionne’s address, and reserved seating will be available, but parking and admission passes should be arranged in advance.  Downloadable audio files and beta video clips from his address will also be available.  To arrange coverage or request more information, contact Eric Frazier at 336-758-5238 or 336-758-5237, or

Press Contacts:

Eric Frazier
(336) 758-5237

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237

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