What work have you been doing with the General Studies Alumni Association (GSAA)?
I am a new member of the GSAA Communication Committee. I’m always eager to stay connected to Columbia and GS, so this affords me a good opportunity to do just that, as well as meet other alumni. As for the ‘work,’ I have contributed to the weekly posts found on the GSAA LinkedIn site that highlights and links alumni to information and resources that they may find valuable in their professional lives.
What drives you to contribute to the GS alumni community?
Simply stated, GS changed my life. Like other GS alumni, I had pursued other passions in my twenties. In my case, it was a career in television news. I wasn’t smart enough at the time, however, to realize completing my undergraduate education was more important. I was 29 years old when I was accepted to GS. I was terrified of failure. Still, I found administrators at GS and professors university-wide devoted to helping me succeed. I did the work, but there was always someone prepared to lift me up or guide me forward.
What’s been the most rewarding project with which you’ve been involved?
I’ve been fortunate to be asked to participate in various GS panels or workshops over the years. I always appreciate the warm greeting I receive from Dean Awn. But it is my interaction with current GS students—whether it be at a networking workshop or speaking to a small group about journalism—that is the most rewarding for me. The questions are always smart and sharp.
What are you currently doing career-wise? Where do you work and what do you do?
I am fortunate to have returned to my passion: television news. Since graduation, in 1995, I have worked for CBS News as a producer, writer, and editor. I’ve covered nearly all the great and dreadful events of the last two decades. I gave up my staff job a few years ago, which allowed me a more flexible schedule and time with my wife and two children. Still, I’m fortunate to be an in-demand freelancer who produces the weekly “Eye Opener” for CBS This Morning Saturday, writes the news for Charles Osgood on CBS Sunday Morning, and acts as a backup writer on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.
What do you do for fun in your free time?
I’m Canadian, so I depend on snow for a lot of my fun. I love to downhill ski as much as possible, and wherever possible. My favorite escape is to ski the powder in Alta, Utah, or make a run home to ski the slopes in Banff National Park in my home province, Alberta.
Tell us about your family life.
My wife and I just celebrated our 22nd anniversary. She’s actually the reason I enrolled at Columbia in the first place.
We met at a wedding in my hometown of Medicine Hat, Alberta in 1993. Soon I found myself in New York with big plans for the future but little education. As a wellschooled attorney, Mary Lou knew what was best for me. Within weeks of my arrival, I was in class at Columbia. She made it possible both personally and financially. Like GS, she changed my life. We are also blessed with two children. Jack, 19, studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Olivia, 16, is a junior at Gill St. Bernard’s, near our home in Basking Ridge, N.J. Both share my passion of skiing!
What is your favorite Columbia GS memory?
My favorite GS memory actually happened outside the U.N. Security Council in July, 1995. I was there covering one of the many emergency sessions of the council and waiting for the diplomats to emerge to talk about the latest atrocity during the Balkan war. Mounted on the wall immediately outside the Security Council was a tapestry copy of Picasso’s great work, Guernica. It was painted as an immediate reaction to the Nazis’ devastating casual bombing practice on the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. I was struck by my realization of the moment—the Balkan war—and my recognition of the work. I would have known neither had it not been that I was required to study art history to complete my European history degree. I credit Columbia GS for that—and changing my life.