Commencement Speakers Front and Center

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The spring semester is rapidly drawing to a close with seniors preparing to take finals and then graduate. Very soon, colleges and universities all across America will be holding commencement exercises with family members and friends looking on in with pride and admiration.

graduationGrads are eager to mark their special occasion and one way that they will be doing that is by welcoming one or more guest speakers to their campus. Expect President Obama to speak at one or more ceremonies with a host of celebrities, dignitaries and other important people planning to take their turns at podiums across the land.

We’ve surveyed the landscape to find out who is speaking and where this year, with this list being our first installment for the 2010 graduation season. In times past we focused on the speaker first; this year we’re looking at particular schools.

Boston College – The university will be holding its 134th Commencement Exercises on Monday, May 24 at Alumni Stadium. Some 3000 grads and their guests will hear Jeffrey Immelt, CEO and Chair of General Electric, give the commencement address.

Cornell University – Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has been invited to speak at Cornell’s commencement on May 29, two weeks after addressing grads at Mills College in Oakland, CA.

George Washington University – The first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, will be the commencement speaker when GWU holds it ceremony on May 16 on the National Mall.

Johnson C. Smith University – Former US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, will be the commencement speaker at JCSU on May 2. Rice’s father, John, was a 1946 graduate of the school. Since leaving government service, Dr. Rice has returned to Stanford where she is a political professor and senior fellow.

Lehigh University – Elie Wiesel, historian and author will speak at Lehigh’s 142nd graduation ceremony on May 24. Wiesel, who is probably best known for Night, a book about his personal experience in Nazi death camps in Germany, is also a professor at Boston University.

Shaw University – Comedian and actor Bill Cosby will speak to Shaw graduates at Dorton Arena in Raleigh on May 8. Shaw is the oldest historically black college in the south, founded in 1865.

Syracuse University – The Carrier Dome will be the setting for graduating Orangmen on May 16 with Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., the invited speaker. The global services company is one of the largest of its kind with assets over $2 trillion.

Texas A&M University – General George Petraeus will speak to Aggie grads and guests on May 13 at Reed Arena. Commencement starts at 5:30 p.m.. Petraeus is the top U.S. commander in the war against terrorism in the Middle East and Central Asia.

University of Michigan – The Big House at Michigan will be filled to capacity as the President of the United States, Barack Obama, speaks to grads at 11 a.m., on May 1. Interest in his speech has the Big Ten Network promising to broadcast his address live in order to accommodate everyone who wants to hear the president speak.

University of Oklahoma – Doris Kearns Goodwin whose book on the life of Abraham Lincoln was a chart topper, has been invited to speak at the Sooner’s grad celebration. The commencement will be held on May 14 at 7 p.m., at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Goodwin is also a Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian.

We’ll announce additional commencements here in the coming weeks as that information becomes known.

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