"Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer to retire this summer

Bob Schieffer to retire from CBS News summer ... 04:33

Last Updated Apr 9, 2015 7:42 AM EDT

Bob Schieffer, the anchor of CBS News' "Face the Nation," announced Wednesday that he will retire this summer after more than 50 years of working in journalism.

Bob Schieffer announces retirement 13:04

Schieffer, who is 78, has been with CBS News for 46 years. 2015 marked his 24th year anchoring "Face the Nation," which celebrated its 60th anniversary last year.

"Because that was where it all started for me, I wanted this to be the place, and I wanted you all to be the first to know that this summer I'm going to retire," he said at the annual Schieffer Symposium at Texas Christian University, his alma mater.

"It's been a great adventure," Schieffer said. "You know, I'm one of the luckiest people in the world because as a little boy, as a young reporter, I always wanted to be a journalist, and I got to do that. And not many people get to do that, and I couldn't have asked for a better life or something that was more fun and more fulfilling."

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He has interviewed every president since Richard Nixon as well as most of those who sought the office. Schieffer most recently interviewed President Obama last November, his third interview with the president on "Face the Nation."

Schieffer also moderated three debates for the Presidential Commission on Debates in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

"He's been an inspiration and a mentor to so many colleagues-- and frankly, to me. You could see at TCU tonight how that inspiration extends to a wider community of reporters and editors and academics," said CBS News President David Rhodes.

Prior to joining CBS in 1969, Schieffer was a reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram where he was the first reporter from a Texas newspaper to report from Vietnam.

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Schieffer has won virtually every award in broadcast journalism, including eight Emmys, the overseas Press Club Award, the Paul White Award presented by the TV News Directors Association, the Edward R. Murrow Award given by Murrow's alma mater Washington State University.

In 2008, Schieffer was named a living legend by the Library of Congress. In 2013, he was inducted into the National Academy of Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame along with CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves, actor Ron Howard, sportscaster Al Michaels and writer/producer Dick Wolf.

Schieffer also received the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence from the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and the Edward R. Murrow Award for Writing from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) in the Network Radio and Television category for a CBS Radio News commentary about "the ghost of Congress future."

"Face the Nation" was the highest rated Sunday talk show in 2014 for the third consecutive year and the broadcast won an Emmy for its show covering the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination in 2013.

In his announcement Wednesday, Schieffer thanked several people who helped advance his career: Phil Record, an editor at the Star-Telegram; the paper's editor, Jack Butler; and CBS colleagues Bill Small, Richard Salant, Sean McManus, Jeff Fager, Moonves and Rhodes. He called "Face the Nation" Executive Producer Mary Hager his "equal partner" in his career and the person to whom he feels the most indebted.

"I've never believed much in the self-made man theory; I think we all need a little help and I had a lot of help along the way," he said.

Schieffer said that one of the factors behind his decision to retire now is his pride in CBS News' current footing.

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"We, like any large organization, we have had our ups and downs; we're on a high right now," he said, praising the commitment to hard news and foreign reporting across the network. "Face the Nation, I think, is better than it has ever been."

In 2005, TCU named its journalism school in his honor and in 2013 named the college in which the journalism school is located the Bob Schieffer College of Communication. In his speech, he said it was the honor that has meant the most to him.

Schieffer is one of the few reporters in Washington to have covered all four of the major beats: the Pentagon, the White House, Congress and the State Department. He became the network's chief Washington correspondent in 1982 and was named the anchor and moderator of "Face the Nation", CBS News' Sunday public affairs broadcast, in 1991.

Schieffer anchored the Saturday edition of the "CBS Evening News" for 23 years. In March 2005, with the departure of Dan Rather, Schieffer served as interim anchor of "The CBS Evening News," until August 2006 - a period that saw a substantial increase in ratings.

Schieffer has written four books: The New York Times bestsellers "This Just in" and "Bob Schieffer's America" as well as "Face The Nation: My Favorite Stories from the First 50 Years of the Award-winning News Broadcast" and "The Acting President."

He was born in Austin, Texas and grew up in Fort Worth where he graduated from North Side High School and Texas Christian University. He served three years in the U.S. Air Force.