Bob Schieffer, the anchor of CBS NewsFace The Nation, announced Wednesday that he will retire this summer. Schieffer, 78, has been with CBS News for 46 years and this year marked his 24th anchoring CBS’ Sunday Beltway show, which finished out 2014 as the highest-rated show of the genre for a third consecutive year. He made the announcement tonight at the annual Schieffer Symposium at Texas Christian University, his alma mater, explaining, “Because this is where my professional career began, this is where I wanted all of you to be the first to know, this summer I am going to retire,” according to CBS News coverage of the confab.

CBS noted tonight that Schieffer, who has interviewed every president since Richard Nixon, 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 in ’91.

Schieffer anchored the Saturday edition of CBS Evening News for 23 years. Maybe more important to the news division, in March 2005, when CBS Evening News saw the acrimonious exit of anchor Dan Rather, Schieffer stepped in and served as interim anchor until August 2006 — during which time the evening newscast’s ratings jumped.

CBS News president David Rhodes issued a memo to staff this evening after the industry veteran made his announcement:

Our Chief Washington Correspondent and anchor of Face the Nation made the announcement here in Fort Worth tonight at TCU’s Schieffer College of Communication.

I know what you’re thinking: Bob’s thought about retiring before, is he really retiring now?  And of course with his long connection to CBS News we’d be happy to learn that he’s not leaving now– or that he can be seen by our viewers in the future.

But speaking at the annual Schieffer Symposium here with colleagues Gayle King, Holly Williams, and a large audience of students and friends from his home community, Bob said he wanted to end it where it began.  He graduated from TCU and before long went to work at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Bob’s been with CBS since 1969… Chief Washington Correspondent since 1982… and host of Face the Nation since 1991.  That broadcast is in its 60th year and has never been better or more powerful, ranking consistently number one this season.

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… Not to mention the example he sets as a father and husband with his wife Pat and his whole family here and elsewhere.

It’s not over yet.  Bob will be on the air this Sunday from the Washington bureau.  And for a number of Sundays to come.  We’ll have more to report soon about the plans for this important broadcast and for the Washington bureau as a whole.  An important 2016 campaign season is beginning.  But this is Bob’s night and I hope we can all celebrate with him the remarkable achievement which is his career here at CBS.

David