Commencement Speakers for 2024

The lineup for spring 2024 commencement speakers includes Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, politicians, activists, academics, authors, actors, film producers, athletes, motivational speakers, business leaders, and an artificial intelligence robot.
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Mark J. Drozdowski, Ed.D.
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Lead Higher Education Analyst

Mark J. Drozdowski, Ed.D., is a senior writer with BestColleges. He has 30 years of experience in higher education as a university administrator and faculty member and teaches writing at Johns Hopkins University. A former columnist for The Chronicle ...
Updated on May 13, 2024
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Darlene Earnest is a copy editor for BestColleges. She has had an extensive editing career at several news organizations, including The Virginian-Pilot and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She also has completed programs for editors offered by the D...
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Colleges and universities have begun naming their commencement speakers for 2024. Here's a running list of announcements, including ceremony dates.

Stay tuned for continual updates throughout the spring.

Table of Contents


Adrian College — May 5

Riley Gaines, an anti-trans rights activist

Albany State University — May 4

Sen. Reverend Raphael G. Warnock (D-GA)

Alcorn State University — May 11

Montell Jordan, the author, pastor, and singer

Averett University — May 4

Gregory L. Robinson, an Averett alum and retired deputy associate administrator for programs at the NASA Science Mission Directorate

Ball State University — May 4

Stedman Graham, a Ball State alum, author, and chairman and CEO of S. Graham and Associates

Barnard College — May 15

Ruth Simmons, president's distinguished fellow at Rice University and senior adviser to the president of Harvard University on HBCU initiatives

Bentley University — May 17-18

Joe Preston, president and CEO of New Balance, undergraduate ceremony; Karan Dyson, vice president of global grooming process & engineering at Procter & Gamble-Gillette, graduate ceremony

Bethany College — May 10

Republican United States Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia

Boston College — May 20

Cardinal Stephen Chow, the bishop of Hong Kong

Boston University — May 19

David Grann, a BU alum and author

Bowie State University — May 24

Wanda Durant, mother of NBA player Kevin Durant and president of the Durant Family Charitable Foundation

Brandeis University — May 19

Ken Burns, documentary filmmaker, undergraduate ceremony; Ruth Simmons, president's distinguished fellow at Rice University and senior advisor to the president of Harvard University on historically Black college and university (HBCU) initiatives, graduate ceremony

Bryant University — May 16, 18

Karen S. Lynch, president and CEO of CVS Health, undergraduate ceremony; Edmund Shallcross III, president and CEO of Amica Mutual Insurance Company, graduate ceremony

Bucknell University — May 12

Nadia Sasso, Bucknell alum, creative producer, and digital storyteller

Buena Vista University — May 4

Jeff Anderson, a Buena Vista alum and executive vice president and chief communications officer for the Minnesota Vikings

California Institute of Technology — June 14

Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA

The Catholic University of America — May 11

Jonathan Roumie, professional actor and voice artist

Centre College — May 19

Matthew Barzun, a business leader, author, and former U.S. ambassador

Champlain College — May 11

Marcelle Leahy, a nurse and humanitarian

Chapman University — May 17

Bill Hader, the comedian, actor, writer and director

Colby College — May 26

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Colby alum, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and presidential historian

Colgate University — May 19

Bill Browder, founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, head of the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign, and author

Colorado College — May 19

Frieda Ekotto, a Colorado College alum and professor of Afro-American and African studies, comparative literature, and Francophone studies at the University of Michigan

Connecticut College — May 19

Laura Coates, CNN's chief legal analyst and anchor of "Laura Coates Live"

Coppin State University — May 17

Linda L. Singh, founder and CEO of Kaleidoscope Affect LLC

Dartmouth College — June 9

Roger Federer, the tennis champion and philanthropist

Denison University — May 11

Philip A. Glotzbach, president emeritus of Skidmore College

Dillard University — May 11

Ayo Davis, a Dillard alum and president of Disney Branded Television

Duke University — May 12

Jerry Seinfeld, comedian, actor, writer, and producer

D'Youville University — May 11

Sophia, an artificial intelligence robot created by Hanson Robotics

East Carolina University — May 3

Ronnie Barnes, an East Carolina alum and vice president of medical services for the National Football League and head athletic trainer for the New York Giants

Elon University — May 24

Ginna Claire Mason, Elon alum and actress

Emmanuel College — May 18

Jack Connors Jr., founding partner of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos and philanthropist

Emory University — May 13

Valerie Montgomery Rice, president and CEO of the Morehouse School of Medicine

Fairleigh Dickinson University — May 15

Stephen K. Klasko, an author, executive-in-residence at General Catalyst, and chief medical officer of Abundant Venture Partners

Fordham University — May 18

Joseph Patrick Kennedy III, the U.S. special envoy to Northern Ireland for economic affairs and former congressman

Gardner-Webb University — May 2

Crystal L. Hill, Gardner-Webb alum and superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

George Washington University — May 19

Jen Psaki, the host of "Inside with Jen Psaki"

Gonzaga University — May 11 and 12

Ed Taylor, vice provost and dean of undergraduate academic affairs at the University of Washington, undergraduate ceremony; Angelique Albert, CEO of the Native Forward Scholars Fund, graduate ceremony; Robert Gates, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, law school ceremony

Grand View University — May 6

Michelle L. Book, president & CEO of the Food Bank of Iowa

Greenville University — May 10-11

John Inazu, a professor of law and religion at Washington University in St. Louis


Hampshire College — May 18

Chelsea E. Manning, an advocate for queer and transgender rights

Hampton University — May 12

Howard-John Wesley, pastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church

Harvard University — May 23

Maria A. Ressa, journalist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient

High Point University — May 2 and 4

Glenn Stearns, businessman and star of "Undercover Billionaire," undergraduate ceremony; Vincent Price, president of Duke University, graduate ceremony

Hillsdale College — May 11

Pat Sajak, host of "Wheel of Fortune"

Hiram College — May 11

Adam Hickman, a Hiram alum and vice president of organizational and cast development at Partners

Hobart and William Smith Colleges — May 19

Carol Spahn, director of the Peace Corps

Hofstra University — May 19

Vanessa Baird-Streeter, president and CEO of the Health & Welfare Council of Long Island, and Margaret Hoover, host of "Firing Line with Margaret Hoover," undergraduate ceremony; Holden Thorp, editor-in-chief of "Science," graduate ceremony

Hood College — May 18

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-MD

Howard University — May 11

Thasunda Brown Duckett, president and CEO of TIAA

Ithaca College — May 19

Jason DeLand, an Ithaca alum and co-founder of the advertising agency Anomaly

Johns Hopkins University — May 23

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)

Kean University — May 14, 16

Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium, undergraduate ceremony; Abby Phillip, anchor of "NewsNight with Abby Phillip," graduate ceremony

Lehigh University — May 19

Scott Willoughby, a Lehigh alum and senior vice president of performance excellence at Northrop Grumman's space systems sector, undergraduate ceremony; Stephen S. Tang, a Lehigh alum and principal at Tangent2Cogent, graduate ceremony

Lesley University — May 18

Sy Montgomery, the author and naturalist

Liberty University — May 10

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)

Lincoln University — May 5

Bryan Stevenson, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative

Lynn University — May 7

Jon Robertson, dean of the Lynn Conservatory of Music

Macalester College — May 11

Laura Coates, CNN's chief legal analyst and anchor of "Laura Coates Live"

Maine College of Art & Design — May 10

Rebecca Sugar, an animator, director, singer and songwriter

Marietta College — May 4

Brendan Adkinson, a Marietta alum and medical student at Yale University

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts — May 11

Shannon Holsey, president of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians and president of the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council

Massachusetts Institute of Technology — May 30

Noubar Afeyan, MIT alum, entrepreneur, and biochemical engineer

McDaniel College — May 18

Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president emeritus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, undergraduate ceremony; Mona Kerby, a professor at McDaniel, graduate ceremony

Molloy University — May 20

Matt Higgins, CEO and co-founder of RSE Ventures

Montana State University-Northern — May 4

Flint Rasmussen, a former professional rodeo clown and senior vice president of fan engagement for the Professional Bull Riders

Morehouse College — May 19

United States President Joseph Biden

Mount St. Joseph University — May 11

Sister Helen Prejean, the social justice advocate and author


New Jersey City University — May 15

Bettina L. Love, an author and professor at Teachers College, Columbia University

New York University — May 15

Martha Minow, a professor at Harvard University and former dean of Harvard Law School

North Carolina State University — May 4

David W. C. MacMillan, the Nobel Prize-winning chemist and professor at Princeton University

Northeastern University — May 5

David A. Thomas, president of Morehouse College, undergraduate ceremony; Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of the National Science Foundation, graduate ceremony

Northwestern University — June 9

Kathryn Hahn, Northwestern alum and actress

Norwich University — April 27

Lori Robinson, retired U.S. Air Force general

Occidental College — May 19

Lindy West, an Occidental alum and author, cultural critic, and screenwriter

Ohio Northern University — May 19

Gregory V. Palmer, a bishop in the United Methodist Church

Oral Roberts University — May 4

Rick Warren, author and spiritual leader

Oregon State University — June 15

Steven Jackson, Oregon State alum and former NFL running back

Pitzer College — May 11

Jim Obergefell, marriage equality activist

Pomona College — May 12

Tani Cantil-Sakauye, former chief justice of California; Cecilia Conrad, economist and nonprofit leader; Harry Elam, president of Occidental College; and Emil Kakkis, Pomona alum and medical geneticist

Princeton University — May 27

Sam Waterston, the actor, will speak at class day

Regent University — May 4

Jason S. Miyares, attorney general of Virginia

Rice University — May 4

Peggy Whitson, Rice alum and astronaut

Ripon College — May 12

Jason Felts, serial entrepreneur, Fortune 500 brand advisor, philanthropist, and film producer

Rutgers University — May 12

Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president emeritus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Saint Anselm College — May 18

Lauren Chooljian, Saint Anselm alum and senior reporter and producer for New Hampshire Public Radio

Saint Michael's College — May 12

Ansel Augustine, an author, ministry leader, and advocate for cultural diversity in the Catholic Church

St. John's University — May 17

Jim Ziolkowski, founder, president, and CEO of buildOn

Saint Vincent College — May 11

Susan Baker Shipley, president of the Pennsylvania, Ohio Valley, and Mahoning Region for Huntington Bank

Saint Xavier University — May 4

Candace N. Ramírez, a Saint Xavier alum and grants manager for The Allstate Foundation

Santa Clara University — June 15

Martin J. Jenkins, a Santa Clara alum and an associate justice of the California Supreme Court

Seton Hall University — May 21

Gary Cohen, an announcer for the New York Mets

Shippensburg University — May 11

James Saxton, a Shippensburg alum and CEO of Saxton & Stump

Simmons University — May 17

Meredith Woo, the former president of Sweet Briar College; and Claudia Goldin, a professor of economics at Harvard University

Skidmore College — May 18

Luis A. Miranda Jr., a community activist and political consultant, and Luz Towns-Miranda, a psychologist and psychoanalyst

Smith College — May 19

María Luisa Arroyo Cruzado, poet laureate and feminist intersectional educator; Ruth E. Carter, Academy Award-winning film costume designer; Ertharin Cousin, CEO and managing director of Food Systems for the Future; Jill Lepore, academic, journalist, and writer; and Reeta Roy, CEO of Mastercard Foundation

Southwestern University — May 11

Adam Winkler, Southwestern alum and television journalist

Spelman College — May 19

Angela Bassett, the actress, director, and producer

Springfield College — May 11-12

Martin Dobrow, professor of communications at Springfield, undergraduate ceremony; Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-MA), a Springfield alum, graduate ceremony

Spring Hill College — May 11

Tania Tetlow, president of Fordham University

Stanford University — June 16

Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and founder of Pivotal Ventures

State University of New York at Old Westbury — May 22

Ruth Simmons, president's distinguished fellow at Rice University and senior adviser to the president of Harvard University on HBCU initiatives

Stonehill College — May 19

Ed Cooley, a Stonehill alum and head basketball coach at Georgetown University

Sweet Briar College — May 18

Tori Murden McClure, a noted explorer and president of Spalding University


Temple University — May 8

Quinta Brunson, a Temple alum and actress, writer, and producer

Tufts University — May 19

Fiona Hill, the chancellor of Durham University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution

Tulane University — May 18

Jon Meacham, the author and historian

United States Air Force Academy — May 30

United States Vice President Kamala Harris

University of California San Diego — June 15

Former United States Vice President Al Gore

University of Colorado Boulder — May 9

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple and a technology entrepreneur

University of Delaware — May 25

Joe Flacco, a Delaware alum and National Football League quarterback

University of Florida — May 3

Carlton Ward Jr., a Florida alum and conservation photographer

University of Georgia — May 10

Allison Schmitt, a Georgia alum, Olympic medalist in swimming, and mental health advocate, undergraduate ceremony; Jenna Jambeck, professor of environmental engineering at Georgia, graduate ceremony

University of Hartford — May 12

Sonya Halpern, a Hartford alum and Georgia state senator, undergraduate ceremony; Jay Malave, a Hartford alum and chief financial officer of Lockheed Martin, graduate ceremony

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign — May 11

Jeanne Gang, Illinois alum, architect, and founding partner of Studio Gang

University of Maine at Fort Kent — May 8

Kathryn Olmstead, an author and emerita professor at the University of Maine

University of Maryland — May 20

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore

University of Mary Washington — May 11

Mark McClure, a Mary Washington alum and Major League Soccer executive

University of Michigan — May 3

Brad Meltzer, a Michigan alum and author, undergraduate ceremony; Robin Givhan, a Michigan alum and journalist, graduate ceremony

University of Mount Saint Vincent — May 18

Terry Fulmer, president of The John A. Hartford Foundation

University of New England — May 18

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill — May 11

Zena Cardman, UNC alum and astronaut

University of Notre Dame — May 19

The Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame alum and president of the university

University of Oregon — June 17

Sarah Mensah, an Oregon alum and the first Black woman to lead Nike's Jordan brand

University of Pennsylvania — May 20

Siddhartha Mukherjee, physician, researcher, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author

University of Pittsburgh — April 28

John P. Surma, non-executive chairman of Marathon Petroleum Corporation

University of Saint Francis — May 4

Greg Erlandson, former editor-in-chief and director of Catholic News Service

University of Texas at Austin — May 11

Retired Maj. Gen. Jeannie M. Leavitt, a Texas alum and the first female fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force

University of Utah — May 2

Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith America

University of Wisconsin-Madison — May 11

Meghan Duggan, Wisconsin alum and former captain of the U.S. women's hockey team

Utica University — May 9-10

Amanda Saravia-Butler, a Utica alum and GeneLab project scientist at NASA, undergraduate ceremony; Tennille Haynes, a Utica alum and associate dean for diversity and inclusion at Princeton University, graduate ceremony

Vanderbilt University — May 9

David Brooks, the New York Times columnist

Villanova University — May 17

Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez

Virginia Commonwealth University — May 11

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University — May 10

Mehul Sanghani, a Virginia Tech alum and CEO and founder of Octo

Wagner College — May 17

Michael Tadross, a Wagner alum and president of productions at Stampede Ventures

Wake Forest University — May 20

Mandy K. Cohen, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Washington & Jefferson College — May 17

Elizabeth Kiss, CEO of the Rhodes Trust

Washington University in St. Louis — May 13

Jennifer Coolidge, the actress

Waynesburg University — May 5

John Montgomery, president and CEO of Community Bank

Weber State University — April 26

Rainn Wilson, the actor and comedian

Wells College — May 18

Tina Post, a Wells alum and professor of English literature and language at the University of Chicago

Wesleyan University — May 26

Imani Perry, professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies and of African American studies at Harvard University; Raj Chetty, professor of public economics at Harvard University; and Michael Greenberg, Wesleyan alum and professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School

Western Colorado University — May 4

Camille Dungy, an author and professor at Colorado State University

Western New England University — May 19

Latoyia Edwards, an anchor for NBC10 Boston and NECN, undergraduate ceremony; Ashley E. Randle, a Western New England alum and commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, graduate ceremony

Whitman College — May 19

Cecelia Kang, a Whitman alum and technology reporter for The New York Times

Wittenberg University — May 11

Megan Frost, Wittenberg alum and director of product design at Apple

Worcester Polytechnic Institute — May 9-10

Nancy M. Pimental, a WPI alum and television writer, undergraduate ceremony; Greg Tucker, a WPI alum and founder, vice chairman, and CEO of ProAmpac