Investigative Journalist Sacha Pfeiffer Will Deliver 2017 Commencement Address

April 07, 2017

Sacha Pfeiffer. Photo courtesy WBUR

Investigative journalist Sacha Pfeiffer, a former member of The Boston Globe Spotlight Team, will deliver the 2017 commencement address at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art on Tuesday, May 23.  Pfeiffer’s reporting was central to the Spotlight Team’s investigative series on the Catholic Church cover-up of clergy sex abuse, which won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, George Polk Award for National Reporting, Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, and Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting, among other honors.  The reporting was also the subject of the 2015 Academy Award-winning film “Spotlight,” in which Pfeiffer was played by actress Rachel McAdams. 

“Our graduates are moving on to the next step in their lives at a time in our nation’s history when the proliferation and impact of misinformation is making it difficult to discern truth from noise and distractions.  Given that context, especially, we are so fortunate that Sacha Pfeiffer, one of journalism’s finest, will take to the historic stage of our Great Hall, where so many others have sought truth and justice for more than 150 years, to share with our community her take on our current environment and how the lessons of her professional life can have meaning for theirs,” said Laura Sparks, president of The Cooper Union.

“The Cooper Union is the perfect school for me to address.  Over the last few years, the student body has questioned authority and seen how leadership can stumble.  The value in that is to learn from it and to always seek accountability and transparency, as they have here.  There are many parallels I can draw between their experiences and my work,” Pfeiffer said.

Pfeiffer currently writes about wealth, philanthropy and nonprofits for the Globe.  She has previously produced investigative series on corporate boards and financial abuses by charitable foundations; covered legal affairs and the Massachusetts courts; and written for the Sunday magazine and travel pages.  Pfeiffer has also worked in broadcast news, hosting “All Things Considered” and “Radio Boston” at WBUR-FM, Boston’s NPR station, and guest hosting NPR’s nationally syndicated “On Point” and “Here & Now.” Her on-air work won a national 2012 Edward R. Murrow Award for broadcast reporting and numerous awards from the Associated Press and the Radio & Television News Directors Association.

Pfeiffer graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in English and history and a master’s degree in education.  In 2005, she was named a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University.  Pfeiffer started her journalism career at the Dedham Times in Dedham, Mass., and originally joined The Boston Globe as a reporter in 1995, but left in 2008 to work for WBUR-FM in Boston and NPR. She returned to the Globe in 2014.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.