Grace Gottschling, Campus Reform
- The Ivy League colleges have all announced their commencement speakers.
- Unlike in years past, the speakers appear, for the most part, to be apolitical.
The selections for the 2019 Ivy League commencement speakers have been announced…and they’re surprisingly apolitical.
Historically, colleges representing the “Ivy League” have consistently chosen liberal and progressive politicians and activists to address their graduating classes. This year, the selections appear to be much more neutral.
The Ivy League is comprised of eight elite institutions: Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University.
Dartmouth, Harvard, and UPenn have external guest speakers at commencement ceremonies while the other five schools’ presidents give the keynote address and host their external speakers at auxiliary events.
Per tradition, Brown University President Christina Paxson will give the keynote address while rising Hollywood force John Krasinski, a writer, director, actor and Brown alumnus will speak at the university’s Baccalaureate Service. Krasinski is a strong supporter of veterans and has not made specifically partisan remarks.
Dartmouth College is hosting internationally renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma to address the class of 2019 at commencement. The 19-time Grammy award winner is also receiving an honorary degree.
“Whether performing new or familiar works from the cello repertoire, collaborating with communities and institutions to explore culture’s role in society, or engaging unexpected musical forms, Ma strives to foster connections that stimulate the imagination and reinforce our humanity,” the Dartmouth announcement read.
Harvard University will be hosting German Chancellor Angela Merkel at its commencement ceremony in May.
UPenn has invited Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, a criminal justice reform organization, to speak to the departing 2019 class. Stevenson will also be receiving an honorary degree from UPenn.
Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber will be giving the commencement address but has invited author and actress, Ellie Kemper, to speak at Class Day, a part of the graduation celebration. Princeton alumnus and conservative commentator George Will has been selected as Baccalaureate speaker.
“We are honored to welcome a speaker who has not only demonstrated excellence as a Princeton alumna in the public eye, but whose mother, Dorothy Jannarone Kemper ’72, and aunt Julie Kemper ’78, laid the foundation for her success and the success of all the women who followed in their footsteps at this great University,” the group of students responsible for selecting the Class Day speaker said, according to the announcement.
Yale University, like Princeton, will also have the college president, Peter Salovey, as the keynote speaker and will be hosting successful and influential author and Yale alumnus Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as the 2019 Class Day speaker.
“Adichie was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2015. In 2017, Fortune magazine named her one of its 50 ‘World’s Greatest Leaders.’ She is a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She divides her time between the United States and Nigeria, where she leads an annual creative writing workshop,” according to the event description.
The Columbia and Cornell presidents will give the 2019 keynote commencement address at their respective universities with no additional event speakers.
As Campus Reform reported in 2018, Rep. and civil rights leader John Lewis (D-Ga.) gave Harvard’s commencement speech. Former Secretary of State and Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton delivered the address at Yale, while Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) spoke at Princeton. While these choices among the Ivy League schools last year were the most blatantly political, the other five schools hosted left-leaning but not overtly political speakers. None of the Ivy League schools hosted conservatives to give commencement speeches in 2018.
The same was true of the Ivy League commencement speakers in 2017, as Campus Reform also reported.