Mary Pavlu – Features Editor
Graduation is a day of achievement, growth and celebration. It’s also celebrated with a commencement speaker, and past years have included successors such as the CEO of Talbots and Scott Brown, as well as the latest speaker, Barney Frank. Timid graduates on the verge of entering the real world look to the speaker for insight, motivation, and positivity.
Yet some fail to deliver.
Many students were less than thrilled with last year’s graduation due to the unenthusiastic words of Barney Frank, the class of 2012’s commencement speaker.
“He wasn’t that motivating,” senior Katie Pare said. “He was almost a downer. Students want to feel motivated and positive about graduating and entering the world. It should be happy, not a depressing experience.”
For many, Frank’s presence was a disappointment. Viewers were dissatisfied with the delivery of his speech, and leaving early didn’t help either.
“I thought his actual words were intelligent and well supported,” President Michael Alexander said. “From that point on though, he did some things that I thought were unfortunate. As soon as I started handing out degrees, he left, and everybody noticed. That upset people including myself; I thought it was rude and inappropriate. A lot of students thought it should be more uplifting, I understand that.”
An outcome such as this is unlikely to happen for the class of 2013. President Alexander and Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Ruth Shuman, are in search of the best commencement speaker for this years’ graduation.
President Alexander and Schuman have a long process ahead of them, as finding the perfect person to address this years’ audience is no easy feat. President Alexander said he first accumulates nominations and ideas from alumni, trustees, students, and faculty. Then it comes down to who is willing to speak, who is available and who will do it without insisting on being paid, something that the President believes is philosophically wrong.
It seems that one easy solution would be to steer clear of politicians this year. 10 out of 10 students asked said they would prefer someone of a different profession to speak at graduation.
“I think we should stay away from politicians,” Pare said. “I think the past shows that the politicians aren’t really the best fit. I also think we’ve all had it with them because the election is all that’s been talked about for months.”
The President agreed that it would make sense to move away from politicians since two have spoken at the 2011 and 2012 commencement. He also said that a variety of people with different careers and accolades are currently on the list of nominees.
A meeting to review the list was pushed back due to Hurricane Sandy, but President Alexander ensures that the first of many meetings to choose the best candidate will take place within the next two weeks.
In the meantime, President Alexander will continue to search for the best representative for the class of 2013. If a senior has a potential commencement speaker in mind, he encourages them to send a letter explaining why that person should be selected along with six signatures in show of support.
“I want someone inspirational who has something to say that the students would be interested in or can learn from,” he said. “Also someone that would bring publicity to the college, and thirdly, someone that is known for their achievements or contributions to society to tie in with an honorary degree.”