The Greatest Lecture Series on Earth?

New England Commencements …

Commencement season … It’s one of those rich aspects of traditional New England higher education that gets short shrift when all attention turns to no-nonsense quantified learning measures and returns on investment. Still, the annual spring descent on New England campuses of distinguished speakers, ranging from Nobel laureates to Pulitzer winners to grassroots miracle-workers, offers a precious reminder of what makes New England higher education higher. It is a lecture series without equal.

An early look at the commencement speakers of 2016 …

Catholic Relief Services CEO Carolyn Woo will address Assumption College’s 99th commencement on Saturday, May 7 at the DCU Center.

Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK and leader of the “Nuns on the Bus” initiative, will deliver the 86th annual commencement at Regis on Saturday, May 7.

Ellen Zane, former president and CEO of Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children, will deliver the MGH Institute of Health Professions commencement address on Monday, May 9 at the Boston Convention and Exposition Center.

Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus will address Babson College’s undergraduate ceremony on May 14 at 10 a.m. EY Global Vice Chair of Public Policy Beth Brooke-Marciniak will address Babson’s graduate ceremony at 3 p.m.

Nobel Laureate Yunus

Nobel Laureate Yunus

James C. Clemmer, a business executive who served as interim president of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts from August 2015 until March 2016, will keynote the college’s 117th commencement exercises on Saturday, May 14, beginning at 11 a.m. in the Amsler Campus Center Gymnasium.

Conservationist Rue Mapp, the founder of the nonprofit Outdoor Afro, who has spoken of a “nature deficit disorder” in America, will address Unity College’s commencement on  Saturday, May 14 at 11 a.m.

Burlington Free Press writer and Saint Michael’s College adjunct professor Michael Donoghue will address Southern Vermont College’s 89th commencement exercises on Saturday, May 14 at 1 p.m.

Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign affairs columnist and author Thomas L. Friedman will address Olin College’s 11th commencement on Sunday, May 15.

Steve Grossman, a business figure and former Massachusetts state treasurer who is CEO of the Boston-based nonprofit Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, will deliver the commencement address at Lasell College on Sunday, May 15.

Salem State University announced speakers for three commencement events, all to be held in Rockett Arena: Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman wil address the School of Graduate Studies on Thursday, May 19 at 4 p.m. Noted public relations expert Micho Spring, will address College of Arts and Sciences and School of Education graduates on Saturday, May 21 at 10 a.m. Neil Chayet, host of “Looking at the Law,” will address College of Health and Human Services and Bertolon School of Business  graduates on Saturday, May 21 at 3 p.m.

Israeli-born architect, urban planner, educator, theorist and author Moshe Safdie will keynote the Boston Architectural College’s 2016 commencement on Friday, May 20 at the Old South Church in Copley Square.

Reverend Liz Walker, a minister, award-winning journalist and activist, will keynote Wheelock College’s undergraduate commencement on Friday, May 20 at 10 a.m. Lisa Wong, a pediatrician, musician, arts advocate and for nearly 30 years, assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, will be Wheelock’s graduate commencement speaker on  May 20 at 3 p.m.

Social entrepreneur Baldwin

Social entrepreneur Baldwin

Lesley University will hold its commencement on Saturday, May 21 at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion with a morning ceremony at 9:30 a.m. and an afternoon ceremony at 2 p.m. Charles M. Payne, the Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, will address Lesley’s Graduate School of Education. Social entrepreneur Molly Baldwin will address the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences. Poet, author and civil engineer Richard Blanco will address the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Visual and performance artist Nick Cave will address the College of Art and Design.

Bill and Joyce Cummings, co-founders of the Cummings Foundation and Cummings Properties, will keynote Endicott College’s commencement on Saturday, May 21 at 10:15 a.m. at the college’s stadium.

Attorney Wendy Y. Estrella, an alumna of Northern Essex Community College, will speak at her alma mater’s 54th annual commencement on Saturday, May 21 at 11 a.m.

Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass, the U.S. envoy to the most recent Northern Ireland peace process, will deliver the University of New Hampshire commencement address on Saturday, May 21.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will address Westfield State University’s 177th commencement on Saturday, May 21 at 4 p.m. in the MassMutual Center in Springfield.

Award-winning actor, director and comedian Hank Azaria will deliver the commencement address return at his alma mater, Tufts University, on Sunday, May 22 at 9 a.m. on the Green on Tufts’ Medford/Somerville campus.

Investigative journalist Rukmini Maria Callimachi will keynote Connecticut College’s 98th commencement on Sunday, May 22.

Human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, will address Wesleyan University’s 184th commencement on Sunday, May 22.

Judge Christopher F. Droney will keynote UConn School of Law’s the commencement on Sunday, May 22.

Director Spielberg

Director Spielberg

Filmmaker Steven Spielberg will address Harvard’s Class of 2016 commencement in Harvard Yard on Thursday, May 26.

Harry K. Thomas Jr., the U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe, will address College of the Holy Cross commencement on Friday, May 27 at 10:30 a.m. at the DCU Center in Worcester.

Massachusetts state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing will keynote Berkshire Community College’s 56th commencement on Friday, June 3 at 4:30 p.m. at Tanglewood in Lenox, Mass

As NEJHE reported previously, Capt. Richard Phillips will deliver the commencement address at Vermont’s Castleton University; U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will address Northeastern University grads.

By the way, if you can’t get enough of pomp and circumstance, visit … a site founded in 2006 by Cristina Negrut, which includes her archive of the best commencement speeches and links to various related resources.


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