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Thursday, May 23, 2024
The Observer

University announces Reagan speechwriter as 2019 Commencement speaker

Editor's Note: A version of this story appeared in the print edition of The Observer on Dec. 3, 2018. 

Peggy Noonan — one of President Ronald Reagan’s speechwriters and a Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal columnist — will deliver the 2019 commencement address at the May 19 graduation ceremony, the University announced Monday.

“Peggy Noonan is universally admired for the stirring prose, keen insight and the moral perspective of her commentary on America and the world,” University President Fr. John Jenkins said in a University press release. “I look forward to welcoming her to Notre Dame and hearing her address to our graduates.”

Before becoming Reagan’s speechwriter in 1984, Noonan graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University and worked at CBS News’ radio division. She worked on some of Reagan’s most well-known speeches, including the “Boys of Pointe du Hoc.” The speech commemorated the 40th anniversary of D-Day and “is considered one of the century’s top 60 speeches of any kind,” the release said. Noonan also worked with Reagan on his address to the nation after the 1986 Challenger space shuttle explosion, which is among the 20th century’s top-10 political speeches, according to the release.

When George H. W. Bush ran for president in 1988, Noonan helped him craft his acceptance speech, which included references to “a kinder, gentler nation” and “a thousand points of light.”

Currently, Noonan writes a weekly political column for The Wall Street Journal titled “Declarations.” Noonan first began writing the column in 2000, and it appears in the newspaper’s weekend edition, according to the release. In 2017, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary that “connected readers to the shared virtues of Americans during one of the nation’s most divisive political campaigns.”

Noonan served as a consultant on NBC’s “The West Wing” and has written nine books on American history, politics and culture, the release said. She also contributed to “Character Above All,” a book of essays on the American presidency.
She also has a background in academia, having worked as an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University, a history instructor at Yale University and a fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.