Ahead of Higher Ed: Top 10 graduation commencement speakers of 2014

Every year, thousands of graduating college seniors don their tasseled caps and long gowns and cross a stage to receive a piece of paper they’ve worked about four years to earn. Each campus welcomes friends and families of the proud graduates and, on most campuses, a prestigious alumnus or individual to serve as a commencement speaker.

Although some schools have yet to set their speakers — like UH, which is slated to pin down a speaker this week — many schools have already announced their commencement speakers. Here is a list of some of the most impressive or amusing commencement speakers nationwide in this year’s graduation commencements.

10. Cecile Richards. The Planned Parenthood president and daughter of former Texas Governor Ann Richards has had an interesting year, to say the least. The graduates of Barnard College in New York City can expect just as interesting a commencement speech.

9. Katie Couric. The daytime TV host of “Katie” will venture to Connecticut to speak to Trinity College’s graduates.

8. Jennifer Lee. The University of New Hampshire jumped on the “Frozen” bandwagon, as its commencement speaker is the screenwriter and director of the animated Disney musical. Lee is recognized as the first female to direct a Walt Disney Animation Studios feature film.

7. Madeleine Albright. The first female United States secretary of state will speak at Pennsylvania’s Dickinson College.

6. Mr. and Mrs. Obama. As impressive as it is that the 44th and current president of the U.S. is speaking at a commencement ceremony, it is oddly for a high school graduation. However, Obama chose Worcester Technical School in keeping with his push for more employment preparation. “We’re working to redesign high schools and partner them with colleges and employers that offer the real-world education and hands-on training that can lead to a job and career,” Obama said. Michelle Obama is also slated to speak at a high school. She will congratulate the graduates of Topeka High School.

5. John Legend. The nine-time Grammy Award winner will address the University of Pennsylvania, but it’s not clear whether he will take the mike to sing or speak his congratulations to the class of 2014.

4. Peyton Manning. The Denver Broncos quarterback will speak — not at his alma mater in Tennessee, but at the University of Virginia.

3. Jay Leno. Leno, who has a lot more free time since passing “The Tonight Show” on to Jimmy Fallon, will undoubtedly provide a few laughs to the graduating class of Emerson College.

2. Bill Nye. “The Science Guy” will speak to the graduates of the University of Massachusetts — a class that most likely grew up learning the ins and outs of the natural world from him in the 1990s.

1. Ed Helms. Winning the No. 1 slot for commencement speakers based on entertainment and just sheer humor is “The Hangover” and “The Office” star. Helms, who played Andy Bernard on the hit TV show, will speak at Cornell University — the same place his character bragged about attending on many episodes.

[email protected]

Leave a Comment