NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie Will Be GW’s Commencement Speaker

Cindy McCain, alumna Christine Darden also will receive honorary degrees at the May 19 ceremony.

Savannah Guthrie, Cindy McCain, Christine Darden
March 27, 2019

Savannah Guthrie, co-anchor of NBC News’ TODAY, will deliver the George Washington University Commencement address May 19 on the National Mall.

Ms. Guthrie has been a leading voice in the media for more than a decade, covering a myriad of high-profile stories and conducting a wide range of exclusive interviews with newsmakers including then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, President Barack Obama, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and many others. Ms. Guthrie was a primary anchor for NBC’s primetime 2018 midterm election coverage and the 2016 presidential election and has anchored major breaking news events including the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, the 2016 Brussels attacks and the 2015 Paris attacks.

Ms. Guthrie, who is an attorney, also serves as NBC News chief legal correspondent.  She previously served as the White House correspondent for the network.

In 2018, Ms. Guthrie was appointed ambassador of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s Hidden Heroes campaign and has served as a Best Buddies Global Ambassador since 2016. Ms. Guthrie was recognized in 2017 by New York Women in Communications with a Matrix Award for excellence in broadcast journalism. She also received an Emmy Award for outstanding morning show in 2012. Ms. Guthrie is a New York Times bestselling author for her book “Princesses Wear Pants” and the sequel “Princesses Save the World.”

Prior to her career in journalism, Ms. Guthrie was an associate for the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. She earned a B.A. from the University of Arizona and a J.D. from Georgetown University, where she graduated magna cum laude.

“Savannah Guthrie’s exceptional experience as a journalist, informing Americans about some of the most important events and people of our time, makes her a terrific choice for Commencement speaker,” said GW President Thomas LeBlanc. “I am also pleased to have the opportunity to honor Christine Darden and Cindy McCain, two extraordinary women who have advanced knowledge and worked to make the world a better place.”

Christine Darden, D.Sc. ’83, joined NASA in 1967 as a “human computer,” performing calculations to further research in space flight. In 1973, she transferred to engineering, where she became one of a handful of female aerospace engineers at NASA. Her career at Langley Research Center would last 40 years, including a stint leading the group working on sonic boom minimization.

NASA awarded Dr. Darden a certificate for outstanding performance 10 times and showcased her as one of seven inventors who contributed significantly to the space program.

She is included in the bestselling book, “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race,” which inspired the award-winning movie.

Dr. Darden earned a bachelor’s degree from Hampton Institute, now Hampton University, an M.S. from Virginia State College and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from GW. She was inducted into the university’s Engineering Hall of Fame in 2017.

Cindy McCain is a businesswomen, philanthropist and humanitarian. She is the widow of Republican presidential nominee and U.S. Sen. John McCain.

Ms. McCain has served in leadership roles advocating for a range of humanitarian causes, including ending human trafficking and helping its victims, providing health care to children around the globe and raising awareness of issues facing girls and women in Africa.

She serves as co-chair of the Arizona Governor’s Council on Human Trafficking and the McCain Institute’s Human Trafficking Advisory Council. Ms. McCain also has served on the board of directors for several philanthropic organizations, including Operation Smile and HALO Trust, which is dedicated to removing landmines across the world.

In addition to her humanitarian work, Ms. McCain is the chairperson of her family’s business, Hensley Beverage Company, one of the largest Anheuser-Busch distributors in the nation.

Ms. McCain earned a B.A. and a M.A. from the University of Southern California.

GW is the only university to hold its Commencement ceremony on the National Mall, and this year’s ceremony will take place on the grounds of the Washington Monument. The university-wide May 19 ceremony will cap a week of events and individual school celebrations.

Past GW Commencement speakers include then-First Lady Michelle Obama, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Sen. Cory Booker, actress Kerry Washington and former President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush.

University News, Commencement