As thousands of proud family members and friends stood and applauded the more than 6,400 Syracuse University students who had their degrees conferred inside the JMA Wireless Dome for this year’s Commencement ceremony, their thoughts were on celebrating this momentous…
Maxwell Prepared Mike Tirico ’88 for His ‘Most Challenging Assignment’
A bachelor’s degree from the Maxwell School and the College of Arts and Sciences helped prepare famed sports broadcaster Mike Tirico ’88 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 College of Arts and Sciences and Maxwell Undergraduate Convocation Ceremony on Saturday, 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 Uyghyur population in southwest China’s Xinjong Province,” Tirico said to the 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 degree in political science from Maxwell and the College of Arts and Sciences, and in broadcast journalism from the Newhouse School, 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,” Tirico 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 Maxwell 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 Newhouse School, served as the student speaker.