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2013 Commencement Speakers Biographies

David Brooks

David Brooks
David Brooks

David Brooks became an op-ed columnist for The New York Times in September 2003.  He has been a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, a contributing editor at Newsweek and the Atlantic Monthly, and he is currently a commentator on “The Newshour with Jim Lehrer.” He is the author of Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There and On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense, both published by Simon & Schuster. His third book, The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement, was published by Random House in March 2001.

Brooks joined The Weekly Standard at its inception in September 1995, having worked at The Wall Street Journal for the previous nine years. His last post at the Journal was as op-ed editor. Prior to that, he was posted in Brussels, covering Russia, the Middle East, South Africa and European affairs. His first post at the Journal was as editor of the book review section, and he filled in for five months as the Journal's movie critic.

He has been a contributing writer to a number of publications, including The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Public Interest, The New Republic and Commentary, among others.

He is also a frequent commentator on National Public Radio, CNN’s Late Edition and the “Diane Rehm Show.” Brooks is the editor of the 1996 anthology Backward and Upward: The New Conservative Writing.

Born in Toronto, Brooks graduated from the University of Chicago in 1983 with a degree in history.  Immediately afterward, he became a police reporter for the City News Bureau, a wire service owned jointly by the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times.


Cynthia Carroll '78

Cynthia Carroll
Cynthia Carroll '78

A 1978 Skidmore graduate, Cynthia Carroll made headlines around the world in 2007 when she became the first woman, outsider, and non-South African to be named chief executive officer of Anglo American, one of the world's largest mining companies.

“Throughout my career, I’ve worked in a male environment,” she wrote in a Newsweek essay in 2007. With each new appointment in the oil and then aluminum industries, she noted, she quickly saw that “performance is what matters.”

Her business savvy has roots in the Harvard MBA she earned in 1989, but it was at Skidmore that she discovered the sciences. Carroll says she came to Skidmore looking to study art history and languages. As a freshman, she signed up for geology to get her science requirement out of the way, and ended up loving it.

“She was always in the geology lab,” recalls geosciences Professor Dick Lindemann. Carroll earned the department’s Mente et Malleo Award for her field study at Swede Mountain in the Adirondacks, and she did a January-term internship with Amoco Production Research Laboratories in Tulsa, Okla. That, says Lindemann, “really set her feet in the direction of the petroleum industry” and, eventually, hard-rock mining.

Carroll went on to earn a master’s in geology at the University of Kansas and then worked for several years with Amoco, supervising geological fieldwork in oil exploration. Then she began an almost 20-year career with the Canadian aluminum company Alcan, leading its Ireland division and becoming president and CEO of Alcan Primary Metal. From her base in Montreal, Canada, she had been responsible for 54 wholly or partly owned operations in more than 20 countries and, at the time of her leaving the Alcan group in November 2006, Primary Metal Group had become Alcan’s biggest and most profitable division.  Forbes has ranked Carroll the fourth most powerful woman in the world.

A former director of Sara Lee Corp., Carroll is a non executive director of BP and a member of BP’s safety, ethics and environmental assurance committee of the board. She is a fellow of the UK’s Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and chairs the Stop Organised Abuse Board of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, a UK charity working in child protection. She is on the board of trustees of the Institute for Advanced Study and is also a member of the American Society of Corporate Executives. She holds honorary degrees from the University of Limerick and University of Exeter. In April 2012, Cynthia was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame at the University of Kansas and in July 2012, elected into the fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Carroll stepped down as Anglo American’s CEO in April 2013.  She and her husband, David, have four children ranging in ages from 12 to 18.