People and Community University

Speakers to share life, career advice with fall graduates

Jeff Bewkes, former CEO and chairman of Time Warner, Inc., and Yuri Tschinkel, one of the world’s most distinguished mathematicians, will address the more than 1,000 fall graduates of the Class of 2023 during commencement ceremonies at the Watsco Center on Dec. 14.
Jeff Bewkes and Yuri Tschinkel
Jeff Bewkes, left, and Yuri Tschinkel will be the featured speakers at fall commencement exercises on Dec. 14.

As the newest University of Miami alumni, graduates at the fall commencement ceremonies will hear from two dynamic individuals who have navigated careers through the complexities of business and academia.

Scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 14, at the Watsco Center on the Coral Gables Campus, the ceremonies will be livestreamed for virtual viewing, enabling everyone to celebrate the accomplishments of doctoral, master’s, and bachelor’s degree candidates.

The speakers and the times of their ceremonies are:

Thursday, Dec. 14 at 10 a.m.: Jeff Bewkes, former chief executive officer and chairman, Time Warner Inc. Undergraduate degree ceremony. 

Jeff Bewkes began his media career with Home Box Office (HBO) in 1979, when he landed in its marketing department—using stacked boxes as a desk—and began pitching the first television service to be directly transmitted and distributed to individual cable television systems.

Jeff Bewkes

Four years later, he successfully launched Cinemax and began working his way into the executive suite. He was named HBO’s president and chief operating officer in 1991 and its chairman and CEO in 1995 before moving to Time Warner as vice chairman of the company’s television, film, and music interests in 2002, and president and chief operating officer in 2006.

After taking the helm of Time Warner in 2008, he focused on Time Warner’s film and television assets and steered the media conglomerate back to financial health by investing in blockbuster content like “Game of Thrones,” sporting events like the NCAA “March Madness” basketball tournament, and such film franchises as the “Harry Potter” movies and “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Known for his financial savvy, creative flair, and results-oriented management style, Bewkes moved smoothly through the ranks at HBO. After Time Inc. and Warner Communications merged in 1990, he helped shape Time Warner Inc. into one of the most formidable media/entertainment conglomerates in the world.

During his 39 years with the media/entertainment giant, including a decade spent as president and chairman, Bewkes transformed HBO from a second-run movie outlet into a developer of acclaimed original TV series—“The Sopranos,” “Sex and the City,” and “Six Feet Under” among them—and rescued the company from its stock-battering merger with American Online (AOL) in 2000.

Bewkes departed Time Warner in 2018, after facilitating its acquisition by AT&T, eventually ending what many consider a golden age of TV. He currently serves on the board of Imagine Entertainment, a film and television content creator, and Section 4, a virtual higher education company.

The son of a top business executive, Bewkes grew up in Connecticut, earned his B.A. in philosophy from Yale in 1974, and his M.B.A. from Stanford University.

Thursday, Dec. 14 at 3 p.m.: Yuri Tschinkel, executive vice president, Simons Foundation, and professor, New York University Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. Graduate degree ceremony.

A citizen of the world, Yuri Tschinkel speaks many languages. But his first love is the language of mathematics, which he knows many people consider too abstract, complicated, and inaccessible to understand, much less explore.

Yuri Tschinkel

One of the world’s most distinguished mathematics researchers, Tschinkel has authored 135 highly scientific papers, edited 19 technical books, and delivered dozens of invited lectures on algebraic geometry and number theory.

Born in Moscow in 1964, Tschinkel grew up in East Berlin, where he excelled in Germany’s rigorous math curricula. After graduating from Moscow State University with a master’s degree in math in 1990, he earned his doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992 and soon embarked on fellowships at prestigious math centers around the world.

Among them were Harvard and Princeton universities, the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques in Paris, the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge, the Max Planck Institute in Bonn, and the Research Institute for Mathematical Sciences at Kyoto University.

In 1995 he joined the faculty of the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he remained until 2003, when he was appointed Gauss Chair of Pure Mathematics at Germany’s historic University of Göttingen, a post he held for five years. In 2007 he also joined the faculty of NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences—among the world’s top mathematical sciences research centers. Within two years, he became the chair of the institute’s Department of Mathematics, a post he held until 2011.

Tschinkel continues to teach at the Courant Institute while serving as executive vice president of the Simons Foundation, a nonprofit that supports basic science through grant funding, research support, and public engagement.

A fellow of the American Mathematical Society since 2012, he was elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2014; the Leopoldina, the German National Academy of Sciences, in 2018; and as a foreign member of the Academia Europaea in 2021.

He also serves on the editorial boards of Algebraic Geometry, Experimental Mathematics, the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society, the European Journal of Mathematics, and the Progress in Mathematics series from Birkhäuser.