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Ken Bode, former Medill dean and political journalist, dies at 83

He reported on the presidential campaign trail for NBC, made prizewinning documentaries for CNN and moderated "Washington Week" for PBS

Headshot of Ken Bode
Dr. Bode in 2004. (Matt Bowen/DePauw University)

EVANSTON, ILL. – Ken Bode, political journalist and former Medill dean, died June 2 at a care center in Charlotte. He was 83. During Bode's career in journalism, he reported on the presidential campaign trail for NBC, made prizewinning documentaries for CNN and moderated "Washington Week" for PBS.

Medill Associate Professor Emeritus Richard Roth, who was hired by Bode in 1998 and served as his senior associate dean, offered this:

"I am saddened at the news of Bode’s death. He was a giant in journalism – NBC’s chief national political correspondent and, later, even during his first two years as dean at Medill, moderator of PBS’s “Washington Week in Review” – and a gifted teacher and a visionary dean.

It was Bode, who earned a PH.D. in political science before becoming a political reporter, who saw a future in “specializations” at Medill -- having graduate journalism programs in partnerships with the Northwestern schools of business, law and medicine, to supplement the basic and industry-specific teaching of Medill’s own accomplished faculty. Some students also earned master’s degrees from the law school and some certificates from Kellogg.

I recall, too, an early conversation with Bode in 1998 when he said, 'I am not going to be dean of a second-rate broadcast journalism program,' which motivated him to close a deal with the McCormick Tribune Foundation to provide funding for a new building with a state-of-the-art broadcast studio, from which a regular newscast to the campus could be produced. Finally, I might note, Bode used a million-dollar gift from Medill alumnus Rance Crain and Bode’s own national political connections to bring a diverse selection of big-name speakers to Medill and Northwestern, including the likes of Special Prosecutor Ken Starr to talk about the impeachment of Bill Clinton; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; his former NBC colleague Tom Brokaw; civil rights activist and journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault; former First Lady Rosalynn Carter; the late Sen. John McCain; the Rev. Jesse Jackson and another great Chicagoan, journalist and writer Studs Terkel. He was more than just a colleague and boss: Bode, his wife and his daughters, were friends as well. I will miss him and his big personality greatly.”

Read more in The Washington Post