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THE POLITICS OF COMMENCEMENT SPEAKERS



In 2010, the Young America’s Foundation issued its 17th annual commencement-speaker survey which revealed that the nation’s top 100 universities – as rated by U.S. News & World Report – had invited many liberal or leftist ideologues, newsmakers, authors, and entrenched Washington insiders to speak at their graduation ceremonies that year; by contrast, few conservative speakers had been invited. This imbalance represented the continuation of a pattern that already had been well established for many years.

Specifically, eight Obama administration officials addressed the class of 2010 at America's 100 leading universities. These included President Barack Obama himself at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki at University of Vermont-Burlington; Attorney General Eric Holder at Boston University; U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Director of Office Management Peter Orszag at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Secretary of Energy Steven Chu at Washington University-St. Louis and Georgia Institute of Technology; Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano at American University; and Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice at Stanford. Moreover, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at George Washington University.

By comparison, George W. Bush administration officials delivered commencement addresses at the same 100 schools only 14 times during the entire 8 years of Bush's presidency.

Other notable leftists who addressed the graduates at these elite schools in 2010 included news anchor Katie Couric at Case Western Reserve University; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at Cornell; CNN's Anderson Cooper at Tulane; newswoman Christiane Amanpour at Harvard; former U.S. President Bill Clinton at Yale; Columbia University president Lee Bollinger at Columbia; newsman Brian Williams at Notre Dame; actor Alec Baldwin at NYU; political analyst David Gergen at Ohio State; feminist Eleanor Smeal at Rutgers; television journalist Charlie Rose at North Carolina State; talk-show host Tavis Smiley at UC Riverside; and former Supreme Court Justice David Souter at Harvard.


Adapted from "Universities Renew Love Affair with White House Officials for Commencement," by the Young America's Foundation (2010).


 

Study of Bias in the Selection of Commencement Speakers at 32 Elite Colleges and Universities
By the Center for the Study of Popular Culture
August 28, 2003

YAF’s 24th Annual Commencement Speakers Survey Finds 40% More Liberal Speakers than Conservatives at Top 100 Schools
By Emily Jashinsky
May 11, 2016

Liberals to Outnumber Conservative Graduation Speakers 4-to-1
By Campus Reform
May 5, 2016

Conservatives Not Welcome: Liberal Speakers Dominate College Commencements by Six-to-One
By Jennifer Harper
May 11, 2015

Commencementgate: Liberals Outnumber Conservatives 7-1
By The Washington Examiner
May 15, 2012

Commencement Ceremonies at Top 100 Universities Dominated By Obama Officials and Liberal Commentators
By Young America's Foundation
May 17, 2011

Surprise – Liberals Dominate List of Graduation Speakers at 100 Top U.S. Universities!
By Jordan Lorence
May 23, 2011

Universities Renew Love Affair with White House Officials for Commencement
By Young America's Foundation
2010

Leftist Ideas and Segregation Dominate Commencement Exercises
By Young America's Foundation
May 18, 2006

Commencement Bias, 2005
By The Young America's Foundation
June 15, 2005

Liberals Dominate Spring Commencement Exercises at Top Universities
By Young America's Foundation
May 20, 2003

College Graduation Speakers
By The Center for the Study of Popular Culture
September 3, 2002

 

 

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