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Maxwell Prepared Mike Tirico ’88 for his ‘Most Challenging Assignment’

May 16, 2022

The famed NBC broadcaster gave the keynote address at the Maxwell School and College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Convocation.

Mike Tirico undergraduate convocation

A bachelor’s degree from the Maxwell School and the College of Arts and Sciences helped prepare famed broadcaster Mike Tirico to take on one of the toughest assignments of his storied career: the 2022 Winter Olympics in Bejing, China.

In his alumni keynote address at the 2022 Maxwell and College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Convocation on Saturday, May 14, Tirico talked about his experience as part of a small group of media delegates who, under strict COVID safety protocols, lived in the Olympic village while covering the events. The games brought intense global scrutiny to the host country.

“Much of the non-COVID conversation around the games brought light to the decade-plus long issue of human rights, highlighting what the United States and other nations have documented as a mistreatment of ethnic minorities, especially the Uyghur population in southwest China’s Xinjong Province,” he told graduates, gathered in the stadium. “This is where the intersection of my Maxwell and Arts and Sciences life paid off, again.”

Tirico, who earned a B.A. in political science from Maxwell and the College of Arts and Sciences, and a B.S. in broadcast journalism from the Newhouse School in 1988, said his education enabled him to “build a foundation to feel comfortable in discussing these issues with experts and eventually explaining that information for our audience in America.”

“Without my time at Maxwell and the College of Arts and Sciences, there is no way I would have been as prepared to take on the most important aspect of the most challenging assignment in my career, and execute it with self-belief and confidence,” he said.

Tirico acknowledged some of the tragedies and challenges that have dominated headlines in recent years—the murder of George Floyd, deep political divides, the capitol insurrection and COVID. “All changed the world in some way,” he said. “Own them. Let them be guideposts in your growth. They mix with the personal moments while here. And if you take the lessons learned from all those moments, you will enter the world ready to make it better.”

Tirico is host and play-by-play announcer for NBC Sports Group. In addition to the Olympics, he covers an array of high-profile sporting events, including Sunday Night Football and select golf telecasts. He joined NBC after 25 years as one of the signature voices on ESPN/ESPN Radio and ABC Sports. He previously hosted the nationally syndicated Mike Tirico Show on ESPN Radio, launched in 2007 from the studios of WAER-FM—the same public radio station at Syracuse University where he began his broadcasting career.

The Undergraduate Convocation was held in the stadium. Speakers included Dean David M. Van Slyke and his counterpart from the College of Arts and Sciences, Dean Karin Ruhlandt. Gerry Greenberg, senior associate dean in Arts and Sciences, served as master of ceremonies. College marshal Ashley Clemens ’22, who earned a bachelor’s degree in writing and rhetoric from the College of Arts and Sciences and magazine, news and digital journalism from the S.I Newhouse School of Public Communications, served as the student speaker.

By Jessica Youngman

Published in the Summer 2022 issue of the Maxwell Perspective


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