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Author, CBS commentator Bill Geist to be commencement speaker at Illinois

Jeff Unger, News Bureau 217-333-1085

Bill Geist
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Photo by Craig Blankenhorn,
©2002 CBS Worldwide Inc.

CBS News correspondent – and Champaign native – Bill Geist will speak at both commencement ceremonies May 15 at Illinois.


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Bill Geist, an Emmy Award-winning correspondent and commentator for CBS News, will be the speaker at the 134rd commencement of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on May 15 at the Assembly Hall, 1800 S. First St., Champaign. He will speak at the 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. ceremonies.

Geist, a U. of I. alumnus and Champaign native, has been a contributor to “CBS Sunday Morning,” “60 Minutes,” the “Evening News” and other news programs. He also has been a commentator for numerous CBS Sports productions including the Olympic Games, the Superbowl, the World Series and the NCAA Final Four men’s basketball tournament.

Prior to joining CBS News, Geist was a reporter and columnist for The New York Times from 1980 to 1987, writing the “About New York” column. Before that, he was a reporter and columnist for the Chicago Tribune from 1972-1980. Geist served as a combat photographer with the First Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1969.

Geist is the best-selling author of six books, including “The Big Five-Oh! – Fearing, Facing, and Fighting 50”; “Monster Trucks and Hair-in-a-Can – Who Says America Doesn’t Make Anything Anymore?”; “Little League Confidential”; “City Slickers”; and “The Zucchini Plague and Other Tales of Suburbia.” He has contributed articles to dozens of magazines, including Chicago, Esquire, Forbes, New York, Rolling Stone and Vogue.

Geist earned a master’s degree in communications from the University of Missouri in 1971. He met his wife, Jody, at Illinois. They married in 1970, have two children, Willie and Libby, and reside in New York City.

Geist has won numerous awards for his work, but seems most proud of finishing a close third in the Illinois State Fair Bake-Off.