Stephen J. Dubner '84
Stephen J. Dubner left home for college and did what a lot of college students do – he joined a rock band.
While that probably isn't the career path parents hope for their sons, he excelled in academics, earning a degree in communication in 1984 from Appalachian's College of Fine and Applied Arts. After touring for four years with the band, "The Right Profile," and landing a contract with Arista Records, Dubner quit music to resume his educational pursuits, earning an M.F.A. in writing from Columbia University in 1990.
"I ended up quitting music while we were making an album because I decided that the goal in life to be famous was not a healthy goal for me," Dubner said during his convocation address to students, faculty and staff in 2006. "But I kept at my writing, got a graduate degree and ending up working as a writer and editor for the New York Times, which for me was a huge dream come true."
Dubner's talent for writing and his inquisitive nature led to a successful career as a writer and editor for several national publications, but it's his work as co-author of the best-selling "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything" that resulted in a national following.
The book, co-authored with Steven D. Levitt, has sold more than four million copies and has been translated in 35 languages. The book received a Quill Award in 2005, a BookSense Book of the Year Award, and a Visionary Award from the National Council on Economic Education. It was also named a Notable Book by the New York Times.
The success of "Freaknomics" spawned a followup, "SuperFreaknomics," published in 2009, as well as an award-winning blog, a documentary and a public radio program hosted by Dubner. He also has been a regular contributor to ABC News and the NFL Network.
"Stephen's national and international acclaim continues to bring positive attention to Appalachian," wrote Johnny Burleson, Appalachian's associate vice chancellor for development. "He is always ready to help with anything we ask. It is this generous spirit that makes him a truly distinguished member of the Appalachian Family."
Dubner also wrote the national best-seller "Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return to His Jewish Family," which was named a Notable Book by the New York Times and a finalist for the Koret National Jewish Book Award. The book has recently been republished under the title "Choosing My Religion: A Memoir of a Family Beyond Belief." He also wrote a memoir called "Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper" and a children's book called "The Boy With Two Belly Buttons."
"Stephen Dubner is a great ambassador for Appalachian," wrote Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock. "While he has enjoyed considerable professional success, he is still the humble, approachable person he was when he was a student at Appalachian."
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Boone, NC 28608-2015
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