On March 21, the Office of Communications announced that Sheila Coronel, director of the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, will address the Class of 2022 at the 194th Commencement on May 21.
Recent Commencement speakers have included Marquette University Men’s Basketball Coach Shaka Smart ’99, journalist Nate Silver and author John Green ’00. Like speakers before her, Coronel will be awarded an honorary doctorate at the ceremony, the latest in a long series of honors including the Ramon Magsaysay Award and the Columbia University Presidential Teaching Award.
Coronel’s journalism career began in the Philippines during the end of the Ferdinand Marcos regime. Her work frequently focuses on Filipino politics, authoritarianism and freedom of information. In 1989, she was a founder of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. The Center’s reporting on Filipino President Joseph Estrada raised awareness of his corruption and suspicious wealth that led to an impeachment trial and a popular movement to remove him from office.
Coronel’s career speaks to a concern for and belief in the importance of investigative journalism for democratic society. In addition to her roles as director and professor, she frequently writes and speaks publicly about investigative journalism. She also serves on several boards of journalist associations and publications: the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Columbia Journalism Review, ProPublica and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.
In the press release announcing her selection, President Sean Decatur said that the focus of her journalism would give her words particular relevance to this year’s graduating class. “These seniors are graduating in the midst of ongoing turbulence around the world, and Coronel’s extensive experience investigating authoritarian regimes and human rights abuses is incredibly relevant today,” he said. “Kenyon strives to be an institution that takes a stand for freedom and democracy around the globe, and Coronel’s words will surely inspire us in that work.”
Upon the publication of the press release, Coronel tweeted that she was “thrilled” to be invited to speak at Kenyon’s commencement.