He wrote speeches for Richard Nixon, his appearance in a 1986 film has been voted one of the 50 funniest scenes in American movie history, he gave away his own money on a television game show -- and he will deliver the next Commencement address at Ithaca College. Actor, author, economist, civil rights lawyer, and college professor Ben Stein has accepted an invitation to deliver the main address at the Commencement ceremony on May 15, 2005.
Stein became a cult figure for his role as the boring economics teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off,
a movie about a high school senior skipping class. His droning roll call -- "Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?" -- is now a rhetorical catchphrase for asking a question that no one will answer.
In reality, Stein has a degree in economics from Columbia University and writes about the subject in publications including the Wall Street Journal
For six years he even put his own finances on the line, as the host of the Emmy Award-winning quiz show Win Ben Stein's Money.
"Ben Stein has what may be the ultimate hyphenated career description, making him as well known on college campuses as he is in corporate board rooms," says Ithaca College president Peggy R. Williams. "I am pleased that he has accepted our invitation to share his experiences and insights with our graduating seniors and their guests."
At Columbia, Stein was active in the movement to secure voting and other legal rights for African Americans. He continued those efforts while earning a law degree from Yale University, where he helped found the Journal of Law and Social Policy. He worked as a poverty lawyer in New Haven, Connecticut, as a trial attorney for the Federal Trade Commission, and in 1973 became a speechwriter and lawyer for President Nixon -- though Stein maintains that he is neither "Deep Throat" nor did he write the line, "I am not a crook." In 1976 he moved to Hollywood, which is the subject of one of the 17 books he has written or coauthored: The View from Sunset Boulevard: America as Brought to You by the People Who Make Television.
"A commencement speaker should serve to motivate the next generation of leaders to dream, while inspiring them to persevere in reaching their goals," says Leigh Ann Scheider, president of the Ithaca College senior class. "Ben Stein is an enlightening personality, and as the class of 2005 prepares to enter uncharted waters, we can look forward to getting a final lesson from someone who has achieved great success in many diverse fields."
A regular commentator for the CBS Sunday Morning news program, Stein continues to make frequent film, television, and commercial appearances. His books include the nonfiction Can America Survive?: The Rage of the Left, the Truth, and What to Do About It and the humorous self-help guide How to Ruin Your Financial Life. He is a regular contributor to outlets ranging from the conservative American Spectator magazine to the entertainment website E! Online.
Contributed by David Maley