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Brodhead discusses recent debut on The Colbert Report

In his recent appearance on The Colbert Report, President Richard Brodhead discussed everything from the importance of a well-rounded education to the meaning of wide margins—and even received a fist bump from the show’s host.

Brodhead went on the August 15 show to discuss a recent education report prepared by the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, which he co-chaired. His wit was on display as he humorously countered the host’s comic absurdity, receiving applause from the audience and admiration on Twitter.

“I didn’t know what in the world it would be like,” Brodhead said of his appearance on the show. “But it was good fun. I liked him.”

His interview on the Comedy Central show was markedly different from the more solemn televised appearances he has made in the past, Brodhead noted.

“That’s the challenge of it,” he said. “It’s very different from PBS NewsHour, with a serious person asking a serious question.”

Brodhead said that backstage, Colbert shared a bit of advice for handling the aggressive persona he adopts for the show. After asking if Brodhead had seen the show in the past, Colbert went on to say, “Then you remember that I’m an idiot. You’ve got to talk to the idiot."

“He’s perfected the act of Stephen Colbert,” Brodhead said. “It’s hilarious, it truly is.”

Brodhead noted that he was a bit nervous in the week leading up to the interview and rehearsed by answering questions that he made up himself. He found that his own practice questions, however, were more difficult than the ones that Colbert asked him.

Reactions to the interview were overwhelmingly positive, with many students taking to Twitter and Facebook to post their approval. Garnering particular attention was the fact that Brodhead and Colbert shared a fist bump.

“The fist bump was classic, a ringing endorsement of the humanities,” Brodhead said.

Students were also appreciative of the interview’s focus on the merit of the humanities. The report, which found that not enough people see the importance in a humanities education, has received a lot of attention since it was released in June.

“President Brodhead makes a very good point,” said freshman Sunny Zhang. “A lot of people don’t realize that there is an analytical side to the humanities and more than just memorization.”

Many freshmen, in particular, expressed excitement at the interview—which took place just days before their orientation.

“I’m glad that it happened right at the beginning of school,” Brodhead noted. “In a way, it’s a back to school message.”


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