Wondering which distinguished guests will be speaking at this spring’s commencement ceremonies? Well, wonder no more because we’ve got some names for our readers. Big names? ✓. Scholars and thought leaders? ✓. Humanitarians? ✓. Captains of industry? ✓. Leaders of the free world? ✓. But will any of these speakers be entertaining for audiences sitting in the hot sun to listen to? Well, that’s to be determined. Our guess? Not one of these speakers will eclipse Conan O’Brien, who delivered what we believe to be the all-time greatest commencement address to Dartmouth College back in 2011. But who will be trying to give Conan a run for his money this spring?
At Dartmouth College, Denver Broncos QB Russell Wilson will address graduates of his dad’s alma mater. At Princeton University, Teach For America founder Wendy Kopp will address graduates of her alma mater. Tyler Perry will be the keynote speaker at Emory University’s commencement exercises. Jacinta Arden, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, will address graduates of Harvard University (while United States Attorney General Merrick Garland will address graduates of the Classes of 2020 and 2021 whose commencements were impacted by the pandemic). Frank Bruni, the New York Times editorialist will address graduates of his alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ken Burns, the documentary filmmaker will speak to graduates of the University of Pennsylvania. Jon Meacham, the Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian, will address grads of Williams College. Fellow Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson will address graduates of Northwestern University. And at the University of Michigan, Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s pandemic czar, will — without question — elicit both cheers and boos.
While you’re here, check out Conan O’Brien’s 2011 commencement address to Dartmouth College. It’s one of our favorites.
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