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From Churchill to Oprah: the evolution of college commencement speakers

Now that the last tassel has been turned on the region’s robust college-commencement season, a snapshot of graduation speakers at several area schools during the past century shows how the choices have evolved amid broader cultural changes in the country. In the early years, leaders in politics, the arts, and education were often tapped to impart wisdom on this important milestone. More recently, celebrities, media stars, and technology innovators increasingly are represented. Harvard’s choice of speakers over the years hints at the shift.

Undergraduate commencement speaker, except when only graduate commencement or other relevant speaker is available.

Authorities
Politics
Judiciary
Military
Media & celebs
Media
Entertainment
Sports
Culture
Arts
Education
Religion
Money
Business
Economy
Science
Scientist
Technology
Speakers by area of expertise and College
Total number depending of available information by college
Harvard
MIT
Boston College
Boston Univ.
Northeastern
Tufts
Emerson
UMass-Amherst
2013 Speeches
Harvard
Oprah Winfrey
MIT
Drew Houston
Video not available
Boston College
Enda Kenny
Boston Univ.
Wendy Kopp
Northeastern
Jim Yong Kim
Tufts
Claude M Steele
Emerson
Max Mutchnick
UMass-Amherst
Kenneth Chenault
Video not available

SOURCES: Colleges

Chiqui Esteban, Roy Greene/Globe Staff

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