Walter Isaacson to stress innovation to William and Mary graduates

Contact Reporterwwright@vagazette.com

Walter Isaacson had a long career in the news media before moving into policy studies. He now focuses on nonpartisan educational and policy studies as the CEO of the Aspen Institute.

When he speaks to graduating students at the College of William and Mary on Saturday morning, he will stress the idea of becoming versatile in the job market.

"I'm going to be talking about about innovation in start-ups and some other businesses," he said.

Career versatility is something he has lived since the mid-1970s.

Isaacson, a New Orleans native, broke into journalism covering police for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Three decades later, he said he was ready for a move.

He is a former chief executive officer of CNN and a former managing editor of Time magazine; Isaacson is also a best-selling author who has written biographies on Steve Jobs, Ben Franklin, and Einstein, among others.

He has been with the Washington D.C.-based Aspen Institute since 2003.

In January, he'll begin his new job as a history professor at Tulane University. Moving from journalism into a think tank was a move he considered as his interests changed.

"I'd done 30 years in media," said Isaacson. "I wanted to be more influential in shaping policy. Clearly we haven't made a lot of headway recently, because the country is so polarized."

Isaacson said students proficient in the arts and sciences will be best prepared for an ever-changing job market.

Isaacson published his Steve Jobs biography in 2011; he calls Jobs is a shining example of a person who found his way within a changing world.

"I learned it from Steve Jobs," he said. "He stood at the intersection of the arts and sciences. If you can do that, you'll be able to create things that are really beautiful."

Jobs requested Isaacson write the biography.

"He called me up and said, 'why don't you do me next?' That might seem a little arrogant on his part, but he really transformed our lives."

Students coming from institutions like William and Mary have a chance to be uniquely qualified for the job market, Isaacson said.

"It's important to love both the sciences and the humanities," he said. "Liberal arts institutions like William and Mary offer an education that can get you there."

Wright can be reached by phone at 757-345-2343.

Walter Isaacson

From: New Orleans, Louisiana

Education: Pembroke College, Harvard

Media career: Sunday Times (London), New Orleans Times-Picayune, Time Magazine, CNN

Commencement

When: May 13 starting at 10 a.m.

Where: Kaplan Arena, 751 Ukrop Way, Williamsburg. Graduates' walk from Wren to Kaplan will take place at 8:45 a.m., rain or shine.

Want to watch?

When: 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Where: Kaplan Arena, 751 Ukrop Way, Williamsburg, VA For those who do not have a ticket to Kaplan Arena: The school has places on campus where you can view the ceremonies live:

•Sadler Center, Commonwealth Auditorium

•Mason School of Business, Brinkley Commons

•Also streaming on the school Facebook page: facebook.com/williamandmary

For a full lineup of graduation festivities and activities, go to http://www.wm.edu/sites/commencement/.

For a full lineup of graduation festivities and activities — and alternative rain locations — go to http://www.wm.edu/sites/commencement/.

Graduation info

A college spokesperson says attendees should expect heavy traffic around campus before and after the main ceremony.

The following roads are closed on Saturday:

Compton Drive (from Monticello Ave) from Saturday morning until 1:00 p.m.

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