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A distinguished alumnus, author and groundbreaking media entrepreneur returns to the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh May 18 to deliver keynote addresses at the institution’s two Spring Commencement ceremonies.

Jim VandeHei,’95, co-founder and CEO of Axios, will provide the keynote address at both 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. May 18 commencement ceremonies in Kolf Sports Center.

“Jim is a remarkable thinker, writer, leader and entrepreneur,” Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said. “His UWO education was an essential element in fueling a career and life that has led to interviews with presidents and the creation of companies redefining how our world receives and consumes news. Jim’s curiosity, courage and creativity are of a type and a mix we hope to inspire in every UWO student. We are thrilled that he will share congratulations and a powerful message with thousands of UWO graduates, families and supporters on May 18 for another unforgettable Commencement day.”

Jim Vandehei

In 2011, VandeHei was honored by UWO with an honorary degree recognizing his innovative work as cofounder and executive director of the media company POLITICO. He went on to launch Axios, another thriving media company that continues to revolutionize the news industry, most recently venturing into entertainment. VandeHei is also a 2008 recipient of the Chancellor’s Medallion.

A veteran newspaper reporter whose professional passion ignited while an undergraduate journalism student at UWO, VandeHei has evolved into one of the media’s most dynamic entrepreneurs. His UWO education and early experiences catapulted him into national reporting roles in Washington D.C., covering congress for the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post before he co-founded POLITICO and, later, Axios.

“Take away the UWO professors who took personal interest in developing me, and I would still be delivering pizzas,” VandeHei said. “Go Titans!”

He is also an accomplished author. He co-authored the 2022 book Smart Brevity: The Power of Saying More with Less. This spring, VandeHei’s book Just the Good Stuff will be released. It is a reflection on leadership (“No-B.S. Secrets to Success,” as billed on the cover) and includes memories about his formative UWO experiences and journey.

VandeHei’s Smart Brevity philosophy also informed a popular 2021 TEDxOshkosh talk. He has frequently returned to his alma mater and hometown, often connecting with UWO Advertising, Multimedia and Public Relations program students. Last year, he was also a featured Chancellor’s Executive Breakfast speaker.


More about Jim VandeHei

As co-founder and CEO of Axios, VandeHei helped build a media company focused on breaking news and invaluable insights across business, politics, technology and the world. Axios helps readers and viewers get smarter, faster across the consequential topics reshaping our country and lives. As CEO, VandeHei has steered Axios into becoming one of the most celebrated digital media success stories of the past decade.

VandeHei’s forthcoming book Just the Good Stuff shares lessons he’s learned from founding two successful media companies and his tricks for thriving at work and in leadership. He also serves as the chairman of Axios HQ, a software company that helps organizations create essential communications. He was an executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning docu-news series, “Axios on HBO” and co-author of Smart Brevity: The Power of Saying More with Less.

Before Axios, VandeHei co-founded and was CEO of Politico, the media company that upended and revolutionized political and policy journalism in Washington, New York, and Europe. Overseeing both the editorial and business teams, VandeHei was the leading strategist behind its highly scalable and successful business model. Prior to this, VandeHei spent more than a decade as a reporter, covering the Presidency and Congress for The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. He was named National Editor of the Year in 2016. VandeHei is from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Learn more:

‘An exciting time to be in our space’: Now called AMP, UWO journalism department undergoes rebranding

In photos: January 25, 2023 Chancellor’s Executive Breakfast keynote speaker Jim VandeHei

Upcoming TEDxOshkosh event spotlights UW Oshkosh faculty and alumni

Innovative leaders to receive honorary doctorates

Chancellor’s Medallions presented to alumnus, retired prof.