Smith College Admission Academics Student Life About Smith news Offices
News Release

May 18, 2004

Excerpts from Journalist Judy Woodruff's Commencement Speech at Smith College, May 16, 2004

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Distinguished broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff, who has worked for CNN since 1993 and anchors "Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics," gave the commencement address at Smith College's 126th commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 16.

Following are excerpts from her speech:

On America in the world:

"(E)conomically, politically, militarily and socially, America is the world's leader, the trendsetter. American products and American culture are omnipresent.
"Yet, at the same time, American policy, and even Americans, are increasingly reviled around the globe. America, not terrorism, too often is seen as the greatest threat to world peace.
"In moderate Arab countries, supposedly our allies, Osama Bin Laden, a demonstrable murderer, is more popular than George W. Bush; a recent Pew study found the percentage of people in Muslim countries who feel that suicide bombings are justified, has soared.
"American cannot lead -- and you will have more difficulty in playing a prominent role in any international field you pursue -- if this persists. A "Field of Dreams" international policy -- do it and they will follow, irrespective of what the people believe -- is a fantasy."

On journalism, on war:

"Allow me two asides. One, do not let my profession elude its responsibilities: the number of foreign correspondents on the three commercial networks has been cut in half over the past couple of decades and on September 11, 2001, there was not a single CBS, ABC or NBC correspondent in a predominately Muslim country; and then we wonder why we don't understand one another.
"Also, whatever your views on the Iraqi war, don't make the mistakes that were made in Vietnam, where we condemned the warriors as well as the war. This way may prove to be a tragic mistake, as Vietnam did. But we should honor those brave young men and women -- most from working-class families -- who are serving their country in uniform."

On career and family:

"For those of you so inclined, there's the issue of combining career and family. Can you do it? Of course. Women have been doing it for centuries, and, thanks to the feminist movement, there are more possibilities for you today. Over the past 40 years, women have gone from making 59 percent of what men make to 77 percent; although that's welcome, it is also unacceptable.
"Yet in the past few years, corporations and other institutions are making it more difficult, cutting back on flex-time and job-sharing and other arrangements that disproportionately help working mothers. The first child today lowers earnings for a mother by 7.5 percent; the second child by another 8 percent. That is unacceptable.
"It also is unacceptable that our family and medical leave policies are so limited; this imposes a special burden on lower- and middle-income working-class families; over three-quarters of low-wage workers have no paid sick leave. These burdens fall heaviest on women.
"Don't accept these trends. Use your voice and the skills you acquired here to change them."

On service to others:

"You know -- much better than do the troglodytes of my generation -- the value of technology to enrich our lives. But the "information highway" has never tutored an underprivileged young child, taken meals-on-wheels to an infirm senior citizen, transported people with disabilities, or played ball or watched a movie with an at-risk teenager. Those experiences enrich your lives too; they fashion your character, which forms your destiny."

Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation's foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 60 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women's college in the country.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

Smith in the News

News Releases

Contact Us

DirectoryCalendarCampus MapVirtual TourContact UsSite A-Z