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Commencement Speakers

University of Pennsylvania

Commencement Speakers Since 1938

Speeches

For transcripts of recent commencement addresses, please visit the Almanac website and search "Commencement" and the year of the address you are interested in.

List of Speakers

This list includes speakers at special mid-year Convocations through 1953.

2018

Andrea Mitchell, CW’67, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, NBC News; Host of “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” MSNBC.

2017

Cory A. Booker, United States Senator for New Jersey, Advocate for criminal justice reform and community empowerment.

2016

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Composer, writer, and performing artist, Grammy, Tony, and MacArthur award recipient.

2015

Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author.

2014

John Legend, C'99, Grammy-award winning songwriter and musician.

2013

Joseph R. Biden, Jr., 47th Vice President of the United States.

2012

Geoffrey Canada, President and Chief Executive Officer, Educational Innovator and Advocate.

2011

Denzel Washington, Academy Award Winning & Tony Award Winning Actor, Director.

2010

Jon Huntsman, C'87, U.S. Ambassador to China.

2009

Eric E. Schmidt, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Google, Inc.

2008

Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor, City of New York.

2007

James A. Baker, III, 61st U.S. Secretary of State.

2006

Jodie Foster, Actress, Producer and Director.

2005

Kofi Annan, Secretary-General, United Nations with the United Nations, recipient of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.

2004

Bono, Co-Founder, DATA (Debt AIDS Trade Africa), Lead singer, U2.

2003

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chancellor, University of the Western Cape, 1984 Nobel Peace Prize Recipient.

2002

Jim Lehrer, Executive Editor and Anchor, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

2001

John McCain, United States Senator, Arizona.

2000

Seamus Heaney, Poet, Critic, and Translator, 1995 Nobel Laureate in Literature.

1999

Robert E. Rubin, Secretary of the Treasury.

1998

Jimmy Carter, Thirty-Ninth President of the United States.

1997

William H. Cosby, Entertainer and Educator (stricken from the roll of honorary degree recipients on February 1, 2018).

1996

Tom Brokaw, Television Journalist.

1995

Jane Alexander, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts.

1994

Henry G. Cisneros, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

1993

Hillary Rodham Clinton, First Lady of the United States.

1992

Ismael Mahomed, Justice, Supreme Court of South Africa.

1991

Ted Koppel, Television Journalist.

1990

Barbara Bush, First Lady of the United States.

1989

Mike Wallace, Television Journalist.

1988

Patricia Schroeder, Congresswoman.

1987

Riccardo Muti, Conductor, Philadelphia Orchestra.

1986

Michael Brown, Nobel Laureate in Medicine.

1985

Donald Regan, Secretary of the Treasury.

1984

Wilson Goode, Mayor of Philadelphia.

1983

Ellen Goodman, Syndicated columnist.

1982

Sol Linowitz, Former Ambassador to the Organization of American States, Former Chairman of Xerox.

1981

Vernon Jordan, President, National Urban League.

1980

The Lord Annan, OBE Vice Chancellor, University of London.

1979

Garry Trudeau, Doonesbury creator.

1978

Patricia Harris, Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development.

1977

Hubert H. Humphrey, United States Senator.

1976

Warren E. Burger, Chief Justice, U.S. Supreme Court.

1975

Gerald R. Ford, President of the United States.

1974

Milton J. Shapp, Governor of Pennsylvania.

1973

The Rt. Hon. Roy Jenkins, M.P., Former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Former Deputy Leader of the British Labour Party.

1972

John H. Knowles, President-Elect, Rockefeller Foundation.

1971

David Riesman, Henry Ford Professor of Social Sciences, Harvard University.

1970

Martin Meyerson, University of Pennsylvania President-Designate.

1969

Lady Barbara Ward Jackson, Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University.

1968

William S. Paley, Chairman of the Board, Columbia Broadcasting System.

1967

Raymond P. Shafer, Governor of Pennsylvania.

1966

Robert C. Weaver, Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development.

1965

Sir John Bruce, Professor of Clinical Surgery, University of Edinburgh.

1964

William W. Scranton, Governor of Pennsylvania.

1963

Francis Keppel, United States Commissioner of Education.

1962

Clarence D. Dillon, Secretary of the Treasury.

1961

Crawford H. Greenawalt, President, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

1960

The Hon. John Jay McCloy, President, World Bank; U.S. Military Governor and High Commissioner for Germany.

1959

Robert S. Aitken, Vice Chancellor and Principal, University of Birmingham.

1958

Robert Dechert, General Counsel, Department of Defense.

1957

Frank C. James, Principal and Vice Chancellor, McGill University.

1956

Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., United Nations Representative for the United States.

1955

Franklin D. Murphy, Chancellor, University of Kansas.

1954

Charles E. Wyzanski, Jr., Judge, United States District Court for Massachusetts.

1953

February - Harry E. Humphreys, Jr., Chairman, H.S. Rubber Company.

June - Milton S. Eisenhower, President, Pennsylvania State University.

1952

February - Boyd L. Spahr, President, Board of Trustees, Dickinson College.

June - Henry M. Wriston, President, Brown University.

1951

February - George K. Funston, President, Trinity College February Alfred H. Williams.

June - James R. Killian, Jr., President, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

September - Robert Strausz-Hupe, Professor of Political Science.

1950

February - Paul G. Hoffman.

June - Thomas K. Finletter, Secretary of the Air Force.

1949

February - John Foster Dulles, Member of United States Delegation to the United Nations.

June - Detlev W. Bronk, President, Johns Hopkins.

August - William Edel, President, Dickinson College.

1948

February - George K. Funston, President, Trinity College.

March - Esmond R. Long, Director, Henry Phipps Institute.

June - James F. Byrnes, Former Secretary of State, Congressman, and Supreme Court Justice.

August - Paul W. Bruton, Professor of Law.

1947

February - James Creese, President, Drexel Institute of Technology.

March - Chester I. Barnard, President, New Jersey Bell Telephone Company.

June - Margaret Mead, Associate Curator, American Museum of Natural History.

August - Earl G. Harrison, Vice President in Charge of Law School.

1946

February - J. Robert Oppenheimer, Professor of Physics, California Institute of Technology.

March - William S. Middleton, Dean of Medical School, University of Wisconsin.

June - Nochem S. Winnet, Judge of Municipal Court, Philadelphia.

June - Quo Tai-Chi, United Nations Security Council Representative, China.

August - Herbert F. Goodrich, Judge, United States Circuit Court of Appeals.

1945

March - Abraham A. Neuman, President, Dropsie College.

June - Thomas J.S. Waxter, Public Welfare Administrator.

June - Samuel T. Orton, Physician and Investigator.

June - Arthur T. Vanderbilt, Dean of the Law School, New York University.

October - Virginia C. Gildersleeve, Dean of Barnard College.

1944

March - Ralph B. Perry, Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University.

June - Earl G. Harrison, United States Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization.

July - Glenn R. Morrow, Dean of the College.

September - Capt. Richard A. Kern, Chief of Medicine, United States Naval Hospital.

October - Charles F. Jenkins, President, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

1943

February - Henning W. Prentis, Jr., Industrialist.

June - John E. Pomfret, President, College of William and Mary.

October - Rufus H. Fitzgerald, Vice Chancellor, University of Pittsburgh.

December - Edwin G. Conklin, President, American Philosophical Society.

1942

February - Douglas S. Freeman, Editor.

June - Rex S. Clements, Minister, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church.

September - Oliver J. Hart, Bishop Coadjutor Elect of Pennsylvania.

1941

February - Felix M. Morley, President, Haverford College.

June - Archibald MacLeish, Librarian of Congress.

1940

February - Frank P. Graves, Commissioner for Education for New York.

June - William E. Lingelbach, Dean of the College.

September - Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States.

1939

February - Joseph H. Willits, Former Dean, Wharton School.

June - Josiah H. Penniman, Provost of the University.

1938

February - John D. Spaeth, President, University of Kansas City.

June - James R. Angell, Former President, Yale University.

June - Gustave Adolf, Crown Prince of Sweden.