Brenau Commencements May 3 And May 4 Feature Foreign Policy Expert Anne-Marie Slaughter And Journalist Eleanor Clift

May 1, 2013
Brenau Staff

Anne-Marie Slaughter and Eleanor Clift
Anne-Marie Slaughter and Eleanor Clift

Brenau University will recapture this spring a tradition that has been on hold for close to a quarter of a century when it moves its commencement exercises for 738 graduates on May 3 and 4, 2013, to the outdoor venue on the “front lawn” of the historic Gainesville campus.

The ceremonies for those eligible to receive graduate and undergraduate diplomas will feature two internationally renowned speakers:

Princeton University professor Anne-Marie Slaughter, formerly the top official for policy and planning in the U.S. Department of State and recently named president of the New America Foundation, and

Newsweek/DailyBeast political columnist and television commentator Eleanor Clift.

Slaughter will speak at the ceremony for the 149 Women’s College graduates that begins at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 3. Clift speaks at the 9:30 a.m. ceremony on Saturday, May 4, for the 589 who will receive undergraduate and graduate diplomas from all other Brenau programs on five campuses around Georgia and online.

For 25 years Brenau University has held graduation ceremonies in the 2,500-seat arena at the city-owned Georgia Mountains Center. As the facility’s new lessee, however, Brenau has begun extensive renovation on what it calls the Brenau Downtown Center. It will convert the single-floor 19,000-square-foot arena into two floors of about 36,000 square feet of classrooms, laboratories, offices and other academic space for a doctoral program in physical therapy and other health care-related disciplines, so the arena is no longer available.

Surrounded by Second Empire-style buildings that date to the 19th century and a canopy of hardwood trees, the main campus lawn area – at the intersection of Washington and Boulevard in the historic section of Gainesville – provides an engaging ambiance for the ceremonies. It is also the home for several pieces of sculpture that illustrate the evolution of Brenau Women from the Victorian era when the school was founded to modern time.

Both speakers, however, have had major roles in that evolution.

Clift, who as a Newsweek magazine reporter and columnist has covered every president since the 1970s, literally had to join a celebrated lawsuit to break out of the steno pool in the magazine’s “Mad Men” world of the 1960s. At that time, the magazine employed no women as reporters, editors or writers. Clift began work in the secretarial pool in New York, moved up to researcher and subsequently was promoted to “Girl Friday,” or technically the office manager, in the Atlanta bureau of the magazine.

By the time she got her shot at reporting, the South was at the epicenter of American politics, and Clift reported on the emergence of a little-known Georgia politician, Jimmy Carter, who would become president of the United States in 1977. She followed Carter to Washington asNewsweek’s White House correspondent.

Now, as one of Washington’s most respected commentators on politics and public affairs, she continues to work for the online publication, The Daily Beast/Newsweek, and she appears regularly on The McLaughlin Group national public affairs television program. 

“You still do not see an equal number of women in the board rooms or the publishing suites,” Clift said in an interview with WBCX-FM 89.1, the Brenau University radio station. “But everywhere you look – on the cable news shows especially – there are female anchors, female reporters. So I think women are doing exceptionally well in society.”

Clift also shared her views on the evolving role of the media in society.

“We have lost a lot of what was good about traditional media, but in the new digital world, there is a great democratizing, with a small ‘d,’ and everybody is in on the game,” she said. “So, I think the role of big media as a gate-keeper is over.”

Although she laments “the loss of some standards and the more thoughtful analysis that we [journalists] used to give, particularly in the news magazine world, we can’t resist the future. Now it is a more lively, raucous marketplace.”


To hear or download an audio interview with Clift, visit


Slaughter, professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University and formerly dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, served from January 2009 until February 2011 as the first female Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. Department of State. Early last month Slaughter announced that she has been named president of the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C., and and will become a professor emerita at Princeton. 

Her highly acclaimed and provocative 2012 article, “Why Women Can’t Have It All,” provided a hard look at fundamental changes in institutions and attitudes before women can realize full career potential along with personal and family fulfillment. As a frequent speaker, media analyst and writer in both popular press and scholarly journals, Slaughter continues to present engaging ideas and opinions of a variety of subjects from U.S. involvement in Syria to the role of climate change-driven economics in the “Arab Spring” revolutions in the Middle East.

“We have made a tremendous amount of progress, but we have a ways to go,” Slaughter said in an interview with WBCX-FM 89.1, the Brenau University radio station. “I’m very committed to seeing these changes through.”

Although the United States is ahead of most of the rest of the world in embracing “a culture of equality” for the sexes, she said, it ranks about 30th in the developed world in implementing business, structural and economic changes, like paid maternity leave policies, flexible scheduling and on-site workplace day care that would “make it easier for women to be employees as well as workers.” Also, she said, there are some fundamental attitudes that need to change as well.

“If life is going to change for women,” she said, “it is going to have to change for men as well.”


   To hear or download an audio interview with Slaughter, visit


Books by both Eleanor Clift and Anne-Marie Slaughter are available for purchase at the Brenau Barnes & Noble campus bookstore located at 510 Washington Street SE and can be reached at (770) 534-6208.