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Feature

A photo of Aaron Brown.

CNN anchor and U alum Aaron Brown will receive a University of Minnesota Award of Distinction at the U of M Alumni Association's annual celebration on May 10.

U night with Aaron Brown

Published on May 9, 2005

Aaron Brown was on a New York City rooftop less than an hour after the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. That was his first day as a CNN anchor. Throughout that day, Brown gave TV viewers updates and insights on the terrorist attacks and the search-and-rescue mission that was unfolding not far from where he stood.

Brown is CNN's lead anchor during breaking news, elections, and special events, and he hosts the TV station's flagship, evening newscast, "NewsNight With Aaron Brown," on weeknights from 10-11 p.m.

Raised in Hopkins, Minnesota, the New York-based Brown has distinguished himself from his peers with his ability to offer a clear, concise, and compassionate point of view, that's sprinkled with candid observations. He has garnered numerous awards, including three Emmy awards, for outstanding political, general, and sports news coverage.

"I have this great respect for viewers; [I believe that] if you give them good information, they'll figure it out," he says.

Brown says he was dead-set on becoming a reporter when he was 8 years old, after touring a Minneapolis newspaper. He enrolled at the University of Minnesota in the fall of 1966, but his college career only lasted about a year. "I was an academic disaster," he admits. Just 18, he landed a job at 100.3 WLOL-FM radio, sweeping floors and answering phones. But it wasn't long before he was hosting his own Sunday talk show, discussing such issues as war, abortion, gun control, and gay rights.

Brown will return to the U on Tuesday, May 10, as keynote speaker at the University of Minnesota's Alumni Association's 101st Annual Celebration in Coffman Memorial Union and Northrop Auditorium. (The social hour and dinner take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Coffman; the program with Brown's talk will begin at 8 p.m. in Northrop.)

"I don't think [coming back to the U is] a moment of great vindication," says Brown. "I just think it's a moment of wonderful irony. To be allowed back into Northrop Auditorium, [and] let alone be allowed to speak there, will be one of the great fun moments of my life."

Before joining CNN, Brown anchored ABC's World News Tonight Saturday and reported for World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, Nightline, and other ABC news broadcasts. In his 25-year journalistic career, Brown has covered many historic events: the British return of Hong Kong to the Chinese government, the Columbine High School shootings, Nelson Mandela's election as president of South Africa, Jean-Bertrand Aristide reinstatement as head of the Haitian government, Princess Diana's death, and President Bill Clinton's impeachment.

The U will honor Brown with a University of Minnesota Award of Distinction at the alumni event.

Tickets to the UMAA celebration are $65 ($50 for UMAA member) for the dinner and program or $30 ($25 for UMAA members; $15 for U of M students) to only attend the program. To buy your tickets or learn more about the event, see www.alumni.umn.edu or call 612-624-2345.

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