The year I graduated from NC State, Phil Donahue was the commencement speaker. I skipped the event, instead attending my small departmental graduation. But reports from my fellow students informed me that I missed some fireworks—liberal talking points, taunts from the crowd, and a few students walking out. I think I made the right decision.
Simply put, I have never understood the appeal of the long, hot, university-wide graduation ceremony. Speeches by celebrity talk show hosts, local officials, or even decorated members of the military can do little to save the event. I have always suspected that other feel the same.
And now, at least one university is addressing at least part of the problem. Bradley University in Illinois recently announced that it would no longer invite outside speakers to its commencement ceremony—a move that will help save money, time, and controversy.
In today’s Pope Center article, Stephanie Keaveney details what some schools have chosen to do for the big day. Most universities, she reports, have tried to steer clear of controversy. But the predictable mix of local notables and successful business people still lacks viewpoint diversity.
Keaveney observes: “It’s possible that the relatively calm season is the result of well-publicized controversy in previous years, as universities appear to overwhelmingly exclude conservative speakers from commencement ceremonies. A 2015 study from the Young America Foundation found that, of the top 50 universities ranked by US News and World Report, the ratio of liberal to conservative speakers was nine to one.”
To find out who will speak at your alma mater, click here.
This post is by Jenna A. Robinson, president of the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy