Nomination Guidelines

Each year, a Commencement speaker is chosen to help celebrate the graduating class and offer them inspirational words of wisdom. The Penn community is welcome to nominate candidates for consideration.

Prior to making a nomination, please familiarize yourself with the qualifications for eligibility by reviewing previous Commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients. This information can be found on the: Commencement Speakers webpage.

Nominations are not intended solely for the current academic year and can be made at any time throughout the year. Given scheduling requirements, our Commencement speaker is frequently invited many months in advance.

It is a Penn tradition that University Commencement speakers attend the ceremony and address the graduates in person.

The Commencement speaker will receive a Penn honorary degree.

Final decisions for honorary degrees and University Commencement speaker are the responsibility of the Trustee Honorary Degrees Committee.

Nominations should highlight the nominees' achievements and contributions. Please do not contact the nominee as the nomination process is confidential and nominees should not know that they are being considered.

For general purposes, fields of consideration are as follows:

  • Arts and Culture
  • Business
  • Education
  • Entertainment and Media
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Public Affairs (government, law)
  • Scholarship/Academia
  • Science, Technology and Medicine

Please note that we will not review candidates in the following categories:

  • Posthumous nominations
  • In absentia nominations
  • Organizations or institutional bodies
  • Groups of individuals
  • Self-nomination
  • Penn standing faculty, trustees, or members of School and Center Boards of Advisors

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to

Ready to nominate a Commencement speaker candidate?

To nominate a candidate for Commencement speaker, please fill out this form.

Office of the University Secretary 
1 College Hall, Room 211
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6303

Phone (215) 898-7005
Fax (215) 898-0103

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