Speeches to watch: Natalie Portman, Jonathan Safran Foer, and 'Flo'

EAB Daily Briefing's updated list

Should your school's commencement speaker be included on this list? Email us to submit your speaker for Daily Briefing consideration.

Entries marked with a * have been added since our most recent update. Organized by speaker's area of specialty:


*Binghamton University: Stephanie Courtney, actress best known for playing "Flo" in commercials for Progressive Insurance. Fun fact: Magazine "Ad Age" recently named Courtney one of the top female icons of advertising, along with Rosie the Riveter and Bettie Crocker.

*California State University-Fullerton: Richard Lui, Peabody- and Emmy Award-winning anchor at MSNBC.

Cameron University: Ed Begley, Jr., actor, author, and environmentalist.

Carnegie Mellon University: Alan Alda, actor, writer, director, and science enthusiast.

Clark University: Matt Goldman, co-founder of the Blue Man Group.

Colby College: Robert Redford, actor and filmmaker.

Dartmouth College: David Brooks, journalist, columnist for the New York Times, and author.

George Mason University: Hala Gorani, journalist and television host for CNN International (alumna, class of 1992).

*Georgia State University: Jonathan Safran Foer, author.

*Harvard University: Natalie Portman, Academy Award-winning actress, microfinance advocate, and philanthropist (alumna class of 2003).

Johns Hopkins University: Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, Academy award winner, and author.

Lehigh University: Walter Isaacson, biographer, journalist, public policy analyst.

Longwood University: Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer prize-winning author. Fun fact: Goodwin is also an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox and was the first woman to enter the team's locker room.

Loyola University: Bob Woodward, Washington Post reporter and editor known for reporting on the Watergate scandal.

MGH Institute of Health Professions: Lawrence O'Donnell, news anchor at MSNBC, producer, writer, and political analyst.

Princeton University: Christopher Nolan, film director and screenwriter.

Rutgers University: William Sanford Nye, television host better known as Bill Nye the Science Guy, science educator, and engineer; Jon Bon Jovi, rock musician and philanthropist.

Stanford University: Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign correspondent.

*Susquehanna University: Carol Leifer, Emmy Award-nominated comedian, producer, actress, and writer.

Syracuse University: Mary Karr, poet, memoirist, and professor of English at Syracuse.

Tulane University: Maya Rudolph, actress and comedian (daughter of Tulane alumnus and cousin of a 2015 alumna).

University of Georgia: Amy Robach, journalist and anchor of " Good Morning America"  (alumna class of 1995).

University of Houston: Matthew McConaughey, Academy Award-winning actor and philanthropist.

University of Massachusetts, Lowell: LeVar Burton, Academy-award winning actor and television host.

University of Virginia: Ed Helms, actor, writer, and comedian; Governor Terry McAuliffe (D-Virginia).

University of Wisconsin-Madison: Katie Couric, journalist and author.

Vassar College: Arianna Huffington, Chair, President, and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group.

Wake Forest University: Stephen Colbert, comedian, satirist, and TV personality.

Wellesley College: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author.

Winston-Salem State University: Common, Grammy and Oscar Award-winning musician, actor, and founder of Common Ground Foundation.


Berkshire Community College: Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator (D-Massachusetts), legal expert, and writer.

*California State University-Fullerton: Julián Castro, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and former mayor of San Antonio. 

*Central Piedmont Community College: Jill Biden, second lady of the United States and former community college professor.

Coast Guard Academy: Barack Obama, U.S. president.

Georgia Institute of Technology: Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education; Gen. Philip Breedlove, Commander, Supreme Allied Command, Europe (alumnus class of 1977).

Harvard University: Deval Patrick, former governor of Massachusetts (alumnus class of 1978).

Harvard Law School: Gabrielle Giffords, former Representative (D-Arizona) and advocate for gun regulation. Mark Kelly, Giffords' husband, NASA astronaut, naval aviator, and writer.

Liberty University: Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and anticipated 2016 presidential candidate.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Megan Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, assistant to President Obama.

Miami University: Bonnie St. John, author, Paralympic skiing medalist, former White House official.

North Carolina Central University: Arne Duncan, U.S. education secretary.

*Oberlin College: Michelle Obama, first lady of the United States.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Admiral Michelle Howard, Vice Chief of Naval Operations. Commencement will also feature a guided discussion by the President with Howard, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Craig Mundie, and David M. Rubenstein.

Rochester Institute of Technology: Charles F. Bolden Jr., head of NASA and former astronaut.

Rice University: Retired Gen. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State and former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

San Jose State University: Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Representative (D-California) and House Minority Leader.

*Spelman College: Donna Brazile, vice chair of voter registration with the Democratic National Committee, political commentator, and author. Fun fact: Brazile became the first African American to direct a major presidential campaign when she managed Al Gore's campaign in 2000.

Southern Methodist University: George W. Bush, former president.

*Sweet Briar College: Teresa Pike Tomlinson, mayor of Columbus, Georgia (alumna class of 1987).

*Tuskegee University: Michelle Obama, first lady of the United States.

Tufts University: Madeleine Albright, first female U.S. Secretary of State.

University of California, Santa Barbara: Ashley Conrad-Sayrah, Deputy Secretary for Climate Policy at the California Environmental Protection Agency; Howard Wenger, President of Regions at SunPower Corporation; Jose Hernandez, NASA Astronaut; Professor Lorraine McDonnell, Professor of Political Science; Josh Elliot, television journalist; Dr. Mike North, Discovery Channel host and founder of ReAllocate.

University of the District of Columbia: Jeh Johnson, U.S. Secretary for Homeland Security and former federal prosecutor.

University of Pennsylvania: Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, member of President Obama's cabinet, Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

Wharton Business School: Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General. Fun fact: The University of Pennsylvania, where Wharton is located, scheduled Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations for its undergraduate commencement. Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett says "We knew we had to beat it when choosing our own speaker—so we figured, what better way than to get her boss?"

Yale University: Joe Biden, U.S. vice president.


Babson College: Kevin Colleran, first ad salesperson of Facebook, current venture partner at General Catalyst Partners, and managing partner of Slow Ventures (alumnus, class of 2003).

George Washington University: Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.

Northwestern University: Virginia Rometty, chair, president, CEO of IBM.

Pepperdine University: Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos and health technology entrepreneur. Fun fact: Holmes is America's youngest female billionaire.

Salt Lake Community College: Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva, entrepreneur, and investor.

*University of California-Berkeley: Marc Benioff, chair and CEO of Salesforce, author, and philanthropist. 

University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign: Risa J. Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

University of Rochester: Deborah Bial, founder and president of The Posse Foundation.

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor: Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw, Co-founders and CEOs of Zingerman's Community of Business.

University of Southern California: Mellody Hobson, president and chair of Ariel Investments.

Vanderbilt University: Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: Eric Schmidt, executive chair and former CEO of Google. Fun fact: This is the second time that Schmidt has given the commencement address here—his father was the former chair of the economics department and Schmidt grew up next door to the former president.


California Institute of Technology: Genevieve Bell, anthropologist specializing in the intersection of culture and technology.

Columbia University: Lee Bollinger, President of Columbia University, by tradition.

Cornell University: David J. Skorton, President of Cornell University.

University of Oklahoma: Elizabeth Garrett, first female president of Cornell University.

University of Massachusetts, Amherst: Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, director of New York City's Hayden Planetarium, and television editor and host.

University of Notre Dame: Lord Christopher Patten, Oxford University Chancellor.


Clarkson University: Joe Drago, chair for the board of Hockey Canada (alumnus class of 1963).

Duke University: Paul Farmer, humanitarian (member of the Board of Trustees).

Emory University: Kenneth Cole, clothing designer and social activist (alumnus class of 1976); Sir Salman Rushdie, author and human rights advocate.

*Missouri University of Science and Technology: Vince M. Bertram, president and CEO of Project Lead the Way and STEM education advocate.

*New York University: Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, attorney, author, civil rights advocate (law school alumna, class of 1987).

Ohio State University: Archie Griffin, football player, Heisman Trophy winner, and president and CEO of the OSU Alumni Association (alumnus, class of 1976).

University of New England: Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, granddaughter of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Northern New England, chair of Roosevelt Institute, and philanthropist.

University of New Hampshire: Ryan Pitts, former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant and ninth living recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor (alumnus class of 2013).

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EAB Daily Briefing primer: The Obama administration's college ratings plan

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