2011 College Commencement Speakers, Part I


We’re in the home stretch of the spring semester with most schools having finished up with midterms in March. The University of Michigan has one of the earliest graduation ceremonies of all major colleges and universities, with seniors recognized and honored on April 30 this year.

Home Stretch

College seniors are in the middle of a balancing act — finishing up with term papers and looking for work. Commencement is the chance for students to reflect on the past four academic years and reflect on life ahead. Helping students make the transition are high profile commencement speakers from the political, entertainment and business sectors including the following who have been invited this year.

University of Michigan — Michigan’s new governor, Rick Snyder, will be speaking at a university commencement exercise on April 30 at Michigan Stadium. This ceremony is one of the largest of its kind, marking a four-day celebration beginning on Thursday and lasting through Sunday.

Michigan State University — Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak will speak to Spartan grads on May 6 at Breslin Center. Wozniak was selected in keeping with the school’s technology emphasis, recognizing the importance that Apple products have with helping students and faculty members keep in touch with each other.

University of Northern Iowa — First Lady Michelle Obama will speak at two college and one high school commencement exercises this year, beginning with her May 7 visit to Cedar Falls to speak with UNI grads. Mrs. Obama will also speak to grads at Spelman College in June and at a high school ceremony in Virginia later that month.

Babson College — Dropping out of college twice hasn’t hurt Biz Stone who went on to found Twitter, one of the most popular and profitable social media websites. On May 14, Stone will head to Wellesley, Mass. to speak to Babson College grads and family members. Stone attended Northeastern University and UMass Boston, dropping out of both institutions after one year.

Coast Guard Academy — President Barack Hussein Obama will speak to Coast Guard Academy graduates on May 18 at Cadet Memorial Field in New London, CT. Cadets and faculty will attend with a limited number of tickets available for family members and friends.

Rutgers University — For the first time since the 1960s, Rutgers will hold its commencement exercise at Rutgers Stadium, scheduling that event for May 16. Author Toni Morrison will speak, having been paid $30,000 to address grads which is about half her usual fee.

New York University — Former president Bill Clinton will speak to NYU graduates on May 18 at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, NY. Clinton, whose wife Hillary addressed grads in 2009 will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the university.

Union College — This Schenectady college won’t be conferring its degrees until June 12, but the wait will be well worth it. Speaking to grads will be Judy Woodruff, former CNN news anchor and currently featured on “The PBS NewsHour.” Some 500 students are expected to be conferred degrees later this spring.

Ohio State University — Ohio Stadium will be the setting for the June 12th graduation of Buckeye seniors. Republican House Speaker John Boehner will be on hand to welcome graduates with more than 8,500 expected to be receive their degrees.

Stanford University — Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, president of Mexico, will speak to Stanford graduates on June 12 at a ceremony held at Stanford University. President Calderón was elected in 2006 to a six-year term and is considered a reformer in America’s southern neighbor.

Updates to Follow

We’ll follow this list up with part two in coming weeks and possibly a third part if the list of speakers is particularly notable. Information in this article was confirmed by each respective school’s media site or student newspaper.


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