Witness to History: Award-Winning Author, Commentator Richard Reeves ’60 Hon. D.Eng. ’87
From The Stute to The New York Times, Stevens-trained Richard Reeves ’60 Hon. D.Eng. ’87 covered and documented some of the most important world events, political leaders and pioneering individuals of the 20th century in a remarkable career in journalism.
Not many people in history have won an Emmy Award (for television excellence) and a Peabody Award (for broadcast journalism excellence) and been a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
But Stevens graduate Richard Reeves ’60 Hon. D.Eng. ’87 did.
Reeves, perhaps best known as a political commentator, authored a prolific 20 books over his distinguished career, including volumes on U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford.
After studying electrical engineering (while writing a humor column for The Stute) at Stevens, Reeves decided to launch a career in journalism at the age of 23, founding the Phillipsburg Free Press in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. He would later go on to the Newark Evening News, the New York Herald Tribune and eventually The New York Times, where he became that newspaper’s chief political correspondent.
Later, Reeves moved into broadcast journalism, receiving an Emmy in 1980 for “Lights, Camera… Politics!,” a documentary on the impact of television on politics for ABC News; the Columbia-DuPont Award for his PBS documentary “Struggle for Birmingham”; and the George Foster Peabody Award for “Red Star Over Khyber,” a PBS documentary about resistance to Afghanistan’s then-Soviet-backed government.
His newspaper columns have been syndicated nationwide, and he authored books on subjects beyond politics as varied as the life of pathbreaking physicist Ernest Rutherford; the politics of Pakistan; the Berlin airlift of 1948 and 1949; the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; and the internment of Japanese-American U.S. citizens during World War II.
As if that weren’t enough, Reeves also appeared in two Hollywood films: the political comedy “Dave” in 1993, and the horse racing drama “Seabiscuit” in 2003.
Stevens awarded Reeves an honorary doctorate in 1987. In 2015 he was bestowed the Distinguished Alumni Award for Arts & Humanities during the third Stevens Awards Gala at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.
“Rigorous is an understatement,” he told the audience that night as he accepted the Alumni Award. “I had to work harder. I learned to think.”