Pulitzer winner Friedman to open, close 150th year

Thomas L. Friedman, a three-time individual Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The New York Times, will both open and close the University’s sesquicentennial year.

On Sept. 17, Friedman will give the inaugural Assembly Series sesquicentennial lecture as part of Arts & Sciences’ “Conversations” series. The lecture will be from 11 a.m.-noon in the Athletic Complex Field House.

Thomas L Friedman
Thomas L. Friedman

The Conversations series will feature discussions intended to provide a forum for reflection on issues that will affect the future of the University, the community and the world.

Approximately eight months later, Friedman will deliver the Commencement address for the Class of 2004. The University’s 143rd Commencement will begin at 8:30 a.m. May 21, 2004, in Brookings Quadrangle. During the ceremony, Friedman will also receive an honorary doctor of laws.

“Thomas Friedman is a respected and thoughtful public intellectual who has done much to increase our understanding and knowledge of the world and its condition,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “In such times as these, I can’t think of a better person to kick off our sesquicentennial year celebration, for even as we pause to celebrate, we must continue to seek knowledge and insight into the world around us.”

From May 1981-April 1982, Friedman worked as a general assignment financial reporter at the Times and specialized in news related to oil and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. In April 1982, he was assigned to be the paper’s Beirut bureau chief, a post he began six weeks before the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

In June 1984, Friedman was transferred from Beirut to Jerusalem, where he served as the Times’ Israel bureau chief until February 1988, when he was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship to write a book about his reflections on the Middle East. In June 1989, he published From Beirut to Jerusalem, which was on the Times’ best-seller list for 12 months and won the 1989 National Book Award for nonfiction and the 1989 Overseas Press Club Award for the Best Book on Foreign Policy.

From Beirut to Jerusalem has been published in 10 different languages, including Japanese and Chinese, and is now used as a basic textbook on the Middle East in many high schools and universities.

In January 1989, Friedman took on a new assignment, this time in Washington, D.C., as the Times’ chief diplomatic correspondent. For the next four years, he traveled some 500,000 miles covering Secretary of State James A. Baker and the end of the Cold War.

In November 1992, Friedman shifted to domestic politics and was appointed chief White House correspondent. He covered the transition and first year of the Clinton administration.

In January 1994, Friedman shifted again, this time to economics, and became the Times’ international economics correspondent, covering the nexus between foreign policy and trade policy. In January 1995, he became the Times’ foreign affairs columnist, only the fifth person in the paper’s history to hold that post.

Friedman was awarded the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting (from Lebanon); the 1988 Pulitzer for international reporting (from Israel); and the 2002 Pulitzer for commentary.

His second book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree (2000) is a look at the new international system that, more than anything else, is shaping world affairs today: globalization.

In the book, Friedman argues that globalization is not just a phenomenon or a passing trend. It is the international system that replaced the Cold War system. Globalization is the integration of capital, technology and information across national borders in a way that is creating a single global market and, to some degree, a global village.

He recently completed a third book, Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11, a collection of his post-September 11 Times columns plus added commentary.

Friedman received the 1987 New Israel Fund Award for Outstanding Reporting From Israel; the 1985 Marine Corps Historical Foundation Award for writing on the history of the Marines; the 1984 New York Newspaper Guild Page One Award; the 1982 George Polk Award; the 1982 Livingston Award for Young Journalists; and the 1980 Overseas Press Club Award.

He is a member of Brandeis University’s board of trustees and of the Advisory Board of the Marshall Scholarship Commission. Friedman has been awarded honorary degrees from Brandeis and Macalester, Haverford and Hebrew Union colleges.

He lives outside Washington, D.C., with his wife, Ann, and their daughters, Orly and Natalie.