American University: CNN’s Abby Phillip Announced as Fall 2021 Commencement Speaker

Abby Phillip, CNN senior political correspondent and anchor of Inside Politics Sunday, will deliver American University’s keynote address for its fall commencement on Sunday, Dec. 19. She will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during AU’s 142nd commencement, in what will be the first fully traditional in-person ceremony since the onset of the global pandemic. Approximately 1,500 summer and fall graduates will receive degrees from the university’s seven schools, including the Washington College of Law, and through AU’s Professional Studies and Executive Education programs.

“A commencement speaker like Abby Phillip, who makes an impact every day through her work, is the culmination of the hands-on learning experience that our graduates have known throughout their time at American University,” said AU President Sylvia M. Burwell. “Accepting the challenges of our time is the passion of our AU changemakers, and Abby Phillip exemplifies this purpose in her journalistic pursuits. We are thrilled to have her highlight our return to the full traditional commencement experience.”

In a return to a full commencement ceremony, graduates will be able to sit together as a class in AU’s Bender Arena, all speakers will be in-person, guests will be in attendance, and the playing of the bagpipes, an AU tradition, will kick off the ceremony.

As there will be some graduates who are unable to travel to D.C. to participate in their commencement ceremony, AU will include an online graduate recognition feature this fall. This will give all graduates a chance to celebrate from anywhere that they might be. On the day of the ceremony, Dec. 19, as the commencement is streamed live, videos with individual slides for all August, September and eligible December graduates will be available for viewing on the commencement site. The slides will feature the graduate’s name and degree and will be specific to graduates of each of AU’s seven schools and the Professional Studies and Executive Education programs.

As the anchor of Inside Politics Sunday, Abby Phillip leads an hour-long in-depth conversation on the week’s most important political storylines, with a diverse set of analysts and news-making interviews. She joined the network in 2017 to cover the Trump Administration and served as White House Correspondent through 2019. In January 2020, she moderated CNN’s Democratic Presidential Debate in Iowa. She also anchored special coverage of election night in America surrounding the 2020 election, which lasted several days until CNN was the first news outlet to project Joe Biden as the winner.

“I’m deeply honored to deliver American University’s fall commencement address during the first in-person commencement ceremony the university has held since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Phillip said. “American University’s rich history of training the next generation of public servants remains an essential mission and I am grateful to offer my words of encouragement to the newest class of U.S. and global leaders. In this time of profound uncertainty, servant-minded leaders are needed more than ever. I look forward to sharing with these graduates my thoughts about how they can guide us into the future, whatever it may hold, with courage and truth.”

Phillip joined CNN from The Washington Post where she served as a national political reporter, covering the White House. Before joining The Post, Phillip was a digital reporter for politics at ABC News. She has also covered the Obama White House for POLITICO as well as campaign finance and lobbying.

Phillip was named to the Time 100 Next list in 2021 and she was the recipient of the National Urban League’s Women of Power award.

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