[Update] 163 commencement speakers

See who's speaking this year

Graduation season approaches! Colleges and universities are rolling out their commencement speaker announcements with big names in media, STEM, politics, and more.

Stay on top of the latest developments by following our list of notable commencement speakers, updated each Friday.

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Institutions are listed in alphabetical order and grouped by speaker's industry. Entries marked with * have been added since our most recent update.

Last updated: April 28, 2017


  1. Canisius College (May 20): Nelson D. Civello, former visiting professor at the college who established a student-run investment management program and former president of the Fixed Income Capital Markets Group for Dain Rauscher Corp
  2. Fairfield University (May 21): Rev. Jeffrey P. Von Arx, historian, theologian, and former president of the school
  3. Goshen College (April 30): Luis Fraga, co-director of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame
  4. Hilbert College (May 13): Candace S. Johnson, president, CEO, and Wallace Family Chair in translational research and professor of oncology in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at Roswell Park Cancer Institute of the National Cancer Institute
  5. Illinois Wesleyan University (May 7): Kathleen M. Murray, author and professor of music education, president of Whitman College
  6. Le Moyne College (May 21): John Langdon, professor of history at the college
  7. Miami University (May 13): Daryl Baldwin, linguist, scholar, and leader in Native American language and cultural revitalization
  8. Providence College (May 21): Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies
  9. Pueblo Community College (May 12): Tony Zeiss, executive director of the Museum of the Bible, author, and former president of the school
  10. Trinity College (May 21): Daniel C. Dennett, philosopher, author, and cognitive scientist
  11. University of Washington (June 10): Johnnetta Betsch Cole, former president of Spelman College and Bennett College and former director of the National Museum of African Art

Entertainment and media

  1. Agnes Scott College (May 13): Oprah Winfrey, talk show host, producer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist
  2. Allegheny College (May 13): Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS
  3. Bucknell University (May 21): Fareed Zakaria, author and host of CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS"
  4. Colgate University (May 21): Claudia Rankine, author, professor of poetry at Yale University, and recipient of a 2016 MacArthur "Genius" award
  5. College of William & Mary (May 13): Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, former chair and CEO of CNN
  6. Concordia College Alabama (May 13): Judge Greg Mathis, star of reality-based court show "Judge Mathis"
  7. Dartmouth College (June 11): Jake Tapper, CNN news anchor
  8. Dillard University (May 13): Janelle Monáe, Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, performer, Academy award-winning actor, and producer
  9. Emory University (May 8): Natasha Trethewey, former poet laureate of the United States
  10. Franciscan University of Steubenville (May 13): Patrick Lencioni, founder and president of The Table Group and New York Times best-selling author
  11. Genesee Community College (May 21): Bill Kauffman, author and screenwriter 
  12. High Point University (May 6): Wolf Blitzer, CNN's lead political anchor and anchor of "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer"
  13. Johns Hopkins University (May 24): Frank Bruni, columnist for the New York Times
  14. Kean University (May 18): Kal Penn, actor and former associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement
  15. Kent State University (May 13): Octavia Spencer, Academy award-winning actress and author
  16. Knox College (June 4): Eva Longoria, actress, producer, and philanthropist
  17. Middlebury College (May 28): Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, political commentator, and former editor-in-chief of Newsweek
  18. Monmouth College (May 14): Juan Sepúlveda, senior vice president of PBS
  19. New Hampshire Institute of Art (May 21): Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts 
  20. New York University (May 17): Pharrell Williams, Grammy- and Academy Award-winning musician, songwriter, and producer
  21. Northeastern University (May 5): Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent and anchor of "Amanpour" 
  22. Ramapo College of New Jersey (May 11): Ron Cephas Jones, award-winning actor from the NBC show "This Is US"
  23. Sarah Lawrence College (May 19): J.J. Abrams, celebrated writer, director, and producer 
  24. Salt Lake Community College (May 5): Diane Guerrero, actress on the Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated Netflix series "Orange is the New Black"
  25. Shaw University (May 13): Tom Joyner, iconic radio host, entrepreneur, and philanthropist
  26. Skidmore College (May 20): Oprah Winfrey, talk show host, producer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist
  27. Smith College (May 21): Oprah Winfrey, talk show host, producer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist
  28. Southern Main Community College (May 21): Bill Green, award-winning broadcast journalist and host of "Bill Green's Maine" 
  29. St. Mary's College of Maryland (May 13): Neil Irwin, author and senior economic correspondent at the New York Times
  30. Thomas Nelson Community College (May 11): Digby A. Solomon, retired CEO and publisher of the Daily Press Media Group
  31. Tufts University (May 21): Kenya Barris, Emmy-nominated creator and executive producer of "Black-ish"
  32. Tulane University (May 20): Helen Mirren, Academy Award-winning actress
  33. University of California, Berkeley (May 13): Maz Jobrani, an Iranian-American standup comic and actor
  34. University of Colorado Boulder (May 12): Kate Fagan, a columnist and feature writer for ESPN
  35. University of Georgia (May 5): Ernie Johnson, Jr., host of "Inside the NBA" on TNT
  36. University of Mississippi (May 13): Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian
  37. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (May 14): Brooke Baldwin, CNN news anchor
  38. University of North Carolina at Greensboro (May 12): Margot Lee Shetterly, best-selling author of Hidden Figures, which was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film
  39. University of Southern California (May 12): Will Ferrell, an Emmy- and Tony-nominated actor
  40. University of Redlands (April 22): Kevin Eubanks, guitarist, composer, and former director of Jay Leno's "The Tonight Show" Band
  41. University of Rhode Island (May 21): Vladimir Duthiers, Peabody- and Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist
  42. University of Toledo (May 7): Christine Brennan, award-winning national columnist, commentator, and author
  43. University of the Pacific (May 13): James Patterson, author, literacy advocate, and philanthropist
  44. University of Vermont (May 21): James Fallows, a national correspondent for The Atlantic
  45. University of Washington Bothell (June 13): Leland Melvin, astronaut and former NFL draftee
  46. University of Wisconsin-Madison (May 13): Steven Levitan, co-creator and executive producer of "Modern Family"
  47. University of Vermont (May 21): James Fallows, journalist, author, commentator, and current national correspondent for The Atlantic
  48. Washington University in St. Louis (May 19): Anna Quindlen, best-selling author, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and social critic


  1. *Garden City Community College (May 5): Eugene "Gene" Keady, former head basketball coach at Purdue University
  2. Temple University (May 11): Dick Vermeil, former Eagles coach
  3. University of Maryland (May 21): Mark Ciardi, former Major League Baseball pitcher and founder of Apex Entertainment
  4. Worcester State University (May 13): Joe Andruzzi, former New England Patriots offensive lineman

Government & Politics

  1. Adrian College (April 30): Rick Snyder (R), governor of Michigan
  2. *Babson College (May 20): Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia
  3. Beacon College (May 6): Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), former senator of Iowa and chief architect of the Americans with Disabilities Act
  4. Berea College (May 7): Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia), civil rights leader
  5. Berkshire Community College (June 2): Carlos Santiago, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education
  6. Brooklyn College (May 30): Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), former presidential candidate and a leading advocate for income equality, universal health care, civil rights, and other issues
  7. Bunker Hill Community College (May 21): Martin J. Walsh (D), mayor of Boston
  8. Claremont McKenna College (May 13): Wes Moore, decorated Army combat veteran, Rhodes Scholar, best-selling author, and CEO of BridgeEdU
  9. Colby College (May 20): Vice President Joe Biden, former vice president of the United States
  10. College of Saint Elizabeth (May 13): Camelia M. Valdes, first Latina county prosecutor in New Jersey
  11. Cornell University (May 27): Vice President Joe Biden, former vice president of the United States
  12. Furman University (May 6): Alexander Stubb, former Prime Minister of Finland
  13. George Washington University (May 21): Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois), combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient
  14. Grove City College (May 20): Vice President Mike Pence, vice president of the United States
  15. Guilford College (May 20): Patricia Timmons-Goodson, first African-American woman to serve on the North Carolina Supreme Court
  16. Hamilton College (May 21): Charlie Baker, governor of Massachusetts
  17. Hobart and William Smith Colleges (May 14): President Bill Clinton, 42nd president of the United States and founder of the Clinton Foundation
  18. *Hocking College (May 6): Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, former Ohio Supreme Court Justice
  19. Hudson County Community College (May 18): Howard Dean, former Democratic presidential candidate, chair of the Democratic National Committee, and three-term governor of Vermont
  20. Howard University (May 13): Sen. Kamala Harris, first African-American and first woman to serve as Attorney General for California
  21. Lafayette College (May 20): Ron Chernow, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and commentator who wrote the biography of Alexander Hamilton that inspired the Broadway musical, "Hamilton"
  22. Liberty University (May 13): President Donald J. Trump, president of the United States
  23. Marlboro College (May 14): Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vermont), an advocate of affordable higher education
  24. Marshall University (May 6) J. Mark McVey, Broadway singer and actor
  25. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (May 13): U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia), civil rights leader
  26. Mississippi College (May 6): Phil Bryant, governor of Mississippi
  27. Morgan State University (May 20): Vice President Joe Biden, former vice president of the United States
  28. Mount Wachusett Community College (May 17): Maura Healey, attorney general of Massachusetts
  29. *North Central State College (May 12): Larry Obhof, president of the Ohio Senate
  30. Northeastern Illinois University (May 8): Valerie B. Jarrett, longest serving senior advisor to President Barack Obama
  31. Southwest Tennessee Community College (May 13): Bill Haslam (R), governor of Tennessee 
  32. Stanford University (June 18): Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, associate justice of the Supreme Court of California
  33. United States Coast Guard Academy (May 17): President Donald Trump, president of the United States
  34. United States Air Force Academy (May 24): Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., chairman of the joint chiefs of staff
  35. University of Houston (May 12): Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor, businessman, and former governor of California
  36. University of Massachusetts Amherst (May 12): Sen. Elizabeth Warren, (D-Mass.) advocate for equitable access to education, economic justice, and environmental resource conservation. 
  37. University of New Hampshire (May 20): Gen. Lori Robinson, first woman to lead a U.S. Armed Forces major combatant command
  38. University of Notre Dame (May 21): Vice President Mike Pence, former governor of Indiana and member of the House of Representatives
  39. University of Pennsylvania (May 15): Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), former mayor of Newark, New Jersey
  40. University of Texas at Austin (May 20): David O. Brown, the longest serving chief of the Dallas police department
  41. Webster University (May 13): Gen. Paul Selva, four-star general in the U.S. Air Force and vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  42. Wellesley College (May 26): Hillary Clinton, former presidential candidate, secretary of state, U.S. senator, first lady, and global advocate for women
  43. Wesley College (May 6):  Lieutenant Governor of Delaware Bethany Hall-Long 



  1. Arizona State University (May 8): Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman and CEO
  2. Becker College (May 6): Cliff Rucker, owner of the Worcester Railers Hockey Club and president of NFS Leasing
  3. *Cape Cod Community College (May 25): Dorothy Savarese, president and CEO of the Cape Cod Five Mutual Company
  4. Carnegie Mellon University (May 21): Meg Whitman, president and CEO of Hewlett Packer Enterprise
  5. DePauw University (May 21): Jim Alling, CEO of TOMS
  6. Duke University (May 14): David Rubenstein, philanthropist, co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group
  7. Harvard University (May 25): Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook
  8. *Lake-Sumter State College (May 5): Harry Sideris, President of Duke Energy Florida; and Charles Broadway, Chief of Police for Clermont, Florida
  9. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (June 9): Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
  10. *North Shore Community College (May 25): Rhonda Kallman, founder and CEO of Boston Harbor Distillery and co-founder of Boston Beer Company
  11. Rowan College at Burlington County (May 20): Chris Gheysens, president and CEO of Wawa
  12. Ripon College (May 14): Craig Culver, co-founder of Culver's restaurant chain
  13. Seton Hall University (May 15): Matthew W. Wright, investment expert, founder and president of Disciplina Group LLC
  14. Susquehanna University (May 17): John R. Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc.
  15. University of Richmond (May 7): Sheila Johnson, founding partner of Black Entertainment Television and founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts
  16. University of Arkansas (May 13): Becca Stevens, author, priest, social entrepreneur and founder of Thistle Farms
  17. University of North Alabama (May 13): Wendell Wilkie Gunn, entrepreneur, former advisor to President Reagan, and the first African-American student to attend the school. 
  18. University of Pittsburgh (April 30): S. Epatha Merkerson, actress best known for her work on the television series "Law & Order"
  19. Virginia Tech (May 12): Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook


  1. Drexel University (June 13): John Maeda, global head of computational design and inclusion at Automattic
  2. Franklin & Marshall College (May 13): Wanda M. Austin, former President and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation
  3. Hampton University (May 14): Katherine Johnson, physicist and mathematician who performed groundbreaking calculations for NASA, a leading inspiration behind the film "Hidden Figures"
  4. Marymount University (May 21): France A. Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation and former chief scientist of NASA 
  5. Olivet Nazarene University (May 6): Shannon Bradshaw, computer scientist and founder of MongoDB
  6. Rice University (May 13): Mae Jemison, former astronaut and the first African-American woman to go to space
  7. Southern Methodist University (May 20): Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health
  8. Sweet Briar College (May 13): Kathryn Thornton, director of the aerospace engineering program at the University of Virginia, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and former NASA astronaut
  9. University at Albany (May 21): Cap. Scott Kelly, NASA astronaut who completed a historic and record-breaking, year-long mission in space
  10. University of Arizona (May 12): Charles F. Bolden,Jr., former administrator of NASA
  11. University of North Carolina at Asheville (May 13): Ko Barrett, deputy assistant administrator for research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Nonprofit & humanitarian

  1. Barnard College (May 17): Joanne Liu, president of Doctors Without Borders
  2. Bates College (May 28): Geoffrey Canada, visionary educator, founder and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone
  3. Bennington College (June 2): Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP
  4. Case Western Reserve University (May 21): Fred Gray, civil rights attorney who defended Rosa Parks
  5. *Chesapeake College (May 24): David Skorton, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
  6. Clark University (May 21): Earl Lewis, president of The Andrew M. Mellon Foundation
  7. College of the Holy Cross (May 26): James J. O'Connell, president and founding physician of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program
  8. Elizabethtown College (May 20): Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American College and Universities and former president of Mount Holyoke College
  9. Framingham State University (May 21): Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International
  10. *Grossmont College (June 7): Virginia Hall, retired nurse who attended the school's nursing program, also a locally elected official
  11. Guilford Technical Community College (May 11): James C. Williamson, president of the North Carolina Community College System
  12. Indiana University Bloomington (May 6): Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of New America
  13. Ohio State University (May 7): Abigail Wexner, attorney, philanthropist, and member of the school's Board of Trustees. 
  14. Olin College of Engineering (May 14): Patrick G. Awuah, Jr., global educational leader and founder of Ashesi University
  15. *Prince George's Community College (May 25): Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges
  16. New England College (May 13): Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of Acumen
  17. North Country Community College (May 13): Aaron Mair, president of the Sierra Club
  18. Northwestern University (June 16): Billie Jean King, advocate for equal rights and opportunities and a global sports icon
  19. Rutgers University-New Brunswick (May 14): Steven Van Zandt, musician, actor, human rights activist, and radio host
  20. Saint Joseph's University (May 20): Madeline Bell, president and CEO of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
  21. Scripps College (May 13): Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code
  22. St. John's University (May 21): Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Ghanaian cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and the first Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development
  23. Syracuse University (May 14): Vernon E. Jordan Jr., civil rights leader, former president of the National Urban League, former executive director of the United Negro College Fund, and advisor to President Bill Clinton
  24. University of California, San Diego (June 17): Dalai Lama, spiritual head and leader of the Tibetan people
  25. *University of Saint Joseph (May 13): Joyce James, CEO and owner of Joyce James Consulting and expert on racial equity analysis and transformation; and Christopher J. Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America and former U.S. senator
  26. Wilson College (May 14): David Risher, president and cofounder of Worldreader, former executive at Microsoft and Amazon
  27. Wittenberg University (May 13): Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project 

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