Apr 7, 2009

Commencement Speaker: Ben Stein

by Amanda Sullivan, Life! Editor

With the 2008-2009 academic school year coming to a close, seniors have begun preparing for when they will be able to turn their tassels and toss their caps in exultation of graduation. Likewise, the Liberty administration has started to ready for graduation, beginning with the selection of the commencement speaker.

The class of 2009’s graduation speaker will be Ben Stein, according to Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr.

The decision-making process began several months ago with a list of 20 prospective speakers. Eventually, the list was whittled down to the top three potential spokespersons.

Falwell’s final decision was based on a variety of text-message inquiries that were sent to various seniors, whose responses helped shaped the outcome of the decision.

Senior Justin Scott and LU Online student Jill Hannity, Sean Hannity’s wife, were instrumental in the selection process, according to Falwell. He also said that certain faculty members such as Dr. Elmer Towns, Dean Mat Staver and Liberty Provost Dr. Boyd Rist played important roles in narrowing the speaker list, as did Vice Chancellors Ron Godwin and Jonathan Fawell.

Stein was born on Nov. 4, 1944 in Washington, D.C. to economist and writer Herbert Stein. He graduated from Columbia University in 1966 with honors and a degree in economics. Stein later went on to attend Yale Law School. He graduated from Yale in 1970, where he was elected valedictorian by his peers, according to his biography at BenStein.com.

The list of Stein’s achievements was lengthened when he became a speechwriter and lawyer for Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford during 1973 and 1974, according to the biography. He was also a syndicated columnist for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal.

Stein’s writing career extends beyond the words of his columns and into over 30 books, which consist of both fiction and non-fiction. His non-fiction works were mostly books about finance and his TV experiences. He also authored seven novels, which revolved around life in Los Angeles.

In conjunction with Stein’s writing career, he is also well-known for his occupation as an actor. He is most widely known for his appearance in the “Clear Eyes” commercials. His role in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” in which he played the unenthusiastic economics teacher and spoke the famous words of “Bueller? … Bueller? … Bueller?,” helped to distinguish him as an actor. More recently, Stein is recognized for his film “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” The film is a documentary that confronts the idea of evolution. Stein is the producer and co-writer of the film.

“His work as the nation’s most prominent advocate for bringing integrity and academic freedom back to the American scientific community has been legendary,” Falwell said.

Despite any differences between Stein and Liberty, Falwell remains optimistic about the class’ reception of Stein.

“I believe Liberty will welcome Mr. Stein despite our sharp differences,” Falwell said. “His work in exposing how fraudulent science is being used in this country to destroy and advance tyrannical social and political agendas deserves our attention and respect.

“The class of 2009 will likely encounter the fraudulent use of science throughout their careers and must be prepared to recognize it, and combat it,” Falwell said.

Contact Amanda Sullivan at

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