Spring Commencement Speaker is Joe Armstrong

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Susie P. Gonzalez
Apr. 5, 2012

Spring Commencement Speaker is Joe Armstrong

Undergraduate address will be made by former publisher of Rolling Stone, 9 other publications

SAN ANTONIO - A publishing and journalism magnate for more than 35 years, Joe Armstrong '65 will be the keynote speaker at Trinity University's spring commencement for undergraduates on Saturday, May 12. He is expected to share views he encountered in the 1960s and to which he has returned to after a successful media career.

Armstrong, who describes himself as "a son of my generation," earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Trinity and a juris doctor degree from The University of Texas School of Law.  After graduation, he served in the Peace Corps and worked on Wall Street before embarking on a career in publishing. He was publisher and president of Rolling Stone in its heyday. 

"All my life I was active in our generational priorities: civil rights, the peace movement, more rights for women, and in leading the way for raising big money at the beginning of the AIDS crisis for women, children, and men who were suffering and ignored," he said. 

Armstrong's tour through publishing landed him at 10 magazines, including New York, Rolling Stone, New West, Saveur, Worth, and Civilization (the magazine of the Library of Congress.) He was also a media advisor to Time, Random House, Doubleday, American Express Publishing, Hearst, Gannett, and USA Today, and to John F. Kennedy Jr.'s political magazine, George.

He worked at ABC News with former anchor Peter Jennings and also with Diane Sawyer but has ventured into volunteer work with Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for children with life-threatening illnesses, the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders in Austin, The Lance Armstrong LiveStrong Foundation, and Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans. He also has made numerous trips to Cuba to take supplies to orphanages and build a chapel.

He said that after decades "of marrying my jobs in magazines, books, and television, I decided that I had worried enough about success and it was time to devote myself to significance. Now I help even more young people with their careers, and I do full-time, active, and demanding volunteer work. And I am on a journey to deepen my faith."

Born in Fort Worth and raised in Abilene, Armstrong entered Trinity in the fall of 1961 and went on to become president of the student body. He worked hard to build a strong student voice, bringing what he called "big name" entertainment to campus for the first time, and building a road for a lecture series that introduced outside thinkers and viewpoints.  He received Trinity's Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1976.  

At the UT law school, he was editor-in-chief of The Texas Law Forum and received the highest honor the faculty gave, the Dean Hildebrand Award, which went to "the student who most captured the imagination and respect of the law faculty."

A graduating senior also will speak at the undergraduate ceremony. Shannon Leigh Baldwin of Houston, a double major in political science and human communication, will represent the class of 2012. 

Also on May 12, Trinity will hold a graduate Commencement for students who will receive master's degrees in teaching, school psychology, or accounting. The speaker is John A. Guest, who received a graduate degree in Health Care Administration from Trinity. He is the former president and chief executive officer of Teaching Hospitals of Texas, a system of 17 institutions that form the backbone of the state's trauma system, train the next generation of physicians, and link the state's medical care system for the poor and uninsured. He previously was president and CEO of the Bexar County Hospital District in San Antonio, now known as the University Health System.

The graduate commencement will begin at 9 a.m. in Parker Chapel. No tickets are required for admission. The undergraduate ceremony will begin at 10:30 in Laurie Auditorium. Tickets are required.