graduation
Credit: Carson Kahoe

Ivy League universities are gearing up for this year’s graduation season and, as of late April, all speakers have been formally announced.

In February, Penn announced that the NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent and 1967 Penn graduate Andrea Mitchell will serve as the commencement speaker for the Class of 2018’s graduation on May 14. 

Mitchell is both a graduate of Penn College for Women’s Class of 1967 and a University Trustee Emerita. She played a key role in the official launching ceremony of the Penn Biden Center in D.C. this February, along with Penn President Amy Gutmann and former Vice President and Penn professor Joe Biden himself.

Andrea Mitchell

At Yale, Hillary Clinton will be featured as the annual speaker at this year’s Class Day, a part of the commencement weekend. Clinton graduated from Yale Law School in 1973 with a J.D., and went on to become the first lady of the United States, the secretary of state during the Obama administration, and the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.

The announcement of her participation in the event elicited mixed opinions from Yale students, with some students eager to hear from such a prominent public figure and others disappointed with the politicization of the event.

“Mrs. Clinton is a perfect choice for the Class of 2018,” said Cole Aronson, a member of Yale’s class of 2018, according to the Yale Daily News. “Her perennial power hunger, vapid progressivism, addiction to gender politics and post-defeat logorrhea all reflect the values of my class. But alas, I shan’t be able to make it.”

Credit: Ilana Wurman

Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally in April 2016.

Princeton University will host New Jersey Senator Cory Booker as their Class Day speaker on June 4. 

“We are thrilled to welcome such a motivated, socially conscious and eloquent individual who has dedicated his career to bettering the lives of Americans as an honorary class member of the Great Class of 2018,” Princeton senior class president Brandon McGhee told the school’s Office of Communications.

Booker was the commencement speaker at Penn last year, sparking debate among students. Some students questioned the choice of a Democrat and outspoken critic of President Trump, and the University’s lack of ideological diversity. 

College and Wharton sophomore and College Republicans representative Michael Moroz criticized the choice of a Democrat during an Open Forum at a University Council meeting last year.

Credit: Carson Kahoe

Cory Booker at Penn's 261st commencement in May 2017.

In continuing with the annual tradition, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger will serve as the commencement speaker for the whole school on May 16. 

Abby Wambach, two-time Olympic gold medalist, will speak at the commencement of Barnard College. Wambach, who is also a FIFA Women's World Cup Champion, will speak to students on March 16 at Radio City Music Hall.

Olympic gold medalist Abby Wambach (Anders Henrikson | CC BY 2.0)

Dartmouth College will host actress, comedian, and best-selling author Mindy Kaling to deliver the commencement address on June 10. Kaling graduated from Dartmouth in 2001 as a theater major and was involved in an improv comedy troupe on campus during her college years. 

Leader of the Civil Rights Movement and Congressperson John Lewis will speak at Harvard University’s commencement ceremony on May 24. Lewis was awarded two honorary degrees from the University in 2012, and is the recipient of several awards, including the Lincoln Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

President Barack Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Congressman John Lewis in Feb. 15, 2011. (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Brown University chooses two members of their graduating class to speak each year for their commencement addresses. Brown announced that one Biology concentrator, Lexi Lerner, and one Africana Studies concentrator, Naomi Chasek-Macfoy, will be speaking this year.

Cornell University announced in late April that award-winning director and civil rights activist Ava DuVernay will speak at the senior convocation on May 26. She most notably directed "Selma," "13th," and "A Wrinkle in Time."  Last year, Cornell hosted Joe Biden, Penn’s 2013 commencement speaker. 

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