By Lauren Patterson
For this year’s Founder’s Day Convocation, Sewanee students, families, and faculty members were honored to have Judy Woodruff speak. For over 30 years, Judy Woodruff has covered politics and world events in the news. Given her expansive and impressive career in the field of political and world news, it is no surprise that her speech was as brilliant as it was informative.
Woodruff inspired everyone in attendance by expounding upon her admiration of Sewanee and its time honored traditions. Fellow student and gown recipient Madison Bunderson (C’18) was especially touched by this portion of Woodruff’s speech and explained, “I liked how she reminded us about how special it is that Sewanee upholds our traditions and is so entrenched in them. Because we’re surrounded by them all of the time, we lose sight of how unique they are and how much they truly mean. Hearing about how much Judy admired them, as an outsider looking in, really prompted me to think about how much my gown means.”
Woodruff also displayed her vast knowledge of the political world by describing how politics are fundamental to our society and its funtioning. Alumna Susan Griffith (C’92) agrees with Woodruff, emphasizing the importance of this topic by explaining, “You don’t ask a stone mason to take out your appendix. While our political system may be broken, we need professional politicians.” Woodruff’s description of how society needs politics and politicians resonates with the current political climate and the huge amount of attention on our presidential candidates. Another aspect of Woodruff’s political speech was her emphasis on the media’s role. Student and gown recipient Margie Carrasco (C’17) quoted Woodruff in relating her favorite part of the speech: “I loved how she said ‘We have to hold the media accountable,’ so that they report the truth.” Woodruff’s speech resonated with students, faculty, and alumni alike. Her emphasis on Sewanee’s traditions and current politics proved pertinent to the way Sewanee is presently, and how as a community and university we should rejoice in our traditions and be proactive in our beliefs.
Woodruff served as a correspondent on CNN, NBC’s Today Show, and PBS’s Macneil/Lehrer Newshour, just to name a few. She is currently the co-anchor and managing editor of the PBS Newshour with Gwen Ifill.