I do not agree with your comment about HC no longer having clout regarding a speaker who has gravitas.
This year’s Commencement speaker is the Ambassador to the United Nations and a member of the cabinet of the current Administration. The Ambassador is a career diplomat, who certainly has demonstrated life long service to our country. While not “famous”, or a “celebrity”, Ambassador Thomas, is an expert in national security and foreign affairs. Maybe one of the reasons for the seemingly lack of coverage, was due to the address being delivered remotely, and not in person at the ceremony.
Ambassador Thomas also delivered an address at Columbia School of Public Health and Lewis and Clark for their ceremonies.
sader 1970, I appreciate your comment. Had the same thoughts many times over many years and years and years...The UN Ambassador was a fine choice. One would have expected that she would have revceived national attention. Possibly, the commencement speech by Maria Shriver was the last time an HC commencement speaker received national attention. Although Jon Favreau gave a wonderful commencement address, I don't think he received national attention for his HC speech. We live in an extremely polarized nation. If HC chooses a pro - choice politician (Pres. Biden) all hell would break loose. A speaker from the right would spark anguished cries from alums on the left. A speaker on the left would be condemned by alums on the right. And as a result alums on all sides would threaten to withhold their donations. If Pres. Teddy Roosevelt were to return, people would be screaming bloody murder for his jingoist imperialist policies. And LBJ, Vietnam & Civil rights ? Partisan opinions on issues trump respect for differing opinions and free speech. It's a lose-lose situation. No headlines, no national attention. HC has chosen to walk a fine line - Church & State; Right & Left. Wisely, HC appears to be extremely careful in choosing a non-controversial commencement speaker in its effort to avoid public battles and instead the policy is to highlight the contributions of many fine noteworthy but not necessarily famous Americans and focus attention on the graduating class itself. TBT, many in my class were hung over, dozed off, and paid scant attention to the speech or the commencement itself. Some guys didn't bother to shave and looked washed out.Many slept during the Mass. In fact one of my classmates had to be roused from snoring during the service. We were impatient to get it over with & get out of there. (Sort of like "Animal House" graduates.) Parents were proud & happy. It's probably different today. - Just the opinion of one semi out of touch guy.
Outside of celebrity who was chosen to entertain the audience, and serve as a PR prop for a given institution, and produce canned sound bites, the overwhelming number of commencement speeches do not garner in depth national attention.
Since LBJ, the speaker with the highest national profile at HC, was in 2007. The HC commencement speaker was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts. I do not remember seeing sound bites of his speech being splashed across the nightly news, however, I do remember comics, musicians, and talk show host, with limited academic expertise being shown. Thankfully HC did not follow that path.
Good points mm67 and Crucis, my friend, while you are right, the UN ambassador is not yet well known enough to make national news or her speech wasn't "punchy" enough. Possibly the remoteness of the speech was the issue. I was there for Maria Shriver's speech in 1998 for my son's graduation. Since we were in Worcester and wrapped up in post-grad festivities, I'm not sure how much press she/HC got. I do know she leveraged her speech into a small book (yeah, I bought it).
I think mm67 nailed it that HC is purposely not getting speakers who will be offensive to one group or another. And, thus, not newsworthy. And, I'll admit that I am a bit fatigued with negative news that comes from the top of the hill the last few years.
I was at the ceremony in 1998 as well. Had the opportunity to meet not only Maria, but also her parents, Eunice and R. Sargent Shriver. Truly a memorable day. I regretted not bringing from my scrapbook my McGovern-Shriver bumper sticker for his signature.
She did get national attention due to her connection with NBC news. Unfortunately, HC no longer has a direct pipeline into that organization through Bob Wright.
Having a celebrity, who delivers sound bites, can be a double edge sword. Years later, due to their misconduct, their moment in the sun, at your commencement, turns out to be an embarrassment.
Sometimes a comment here and a comment there leads to a path unexpected. Since I always enjoy your insights, I took the task to hand regarding finding Noteworthy 2021 College Commencement Speakers. I found this list that was recently published in Forbes. On the list are two with a Holy Cross Connection, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Attorney Bryan Stevenson who was the HC commencement speaker in 2015.
The commencement speaker at our Patriot League fellow institution, Bucknell University, was also listed. As soon as I saw her name, I was overcome with joy to see what she has accomplished. The speaker was Audra Wilson, who provided the Bucknell address on May 23, 2021. She is the President and CEO of the Shriver Center for Poverty Law. The center, is named after R Sargent Shriver, which we previously mentioned as being in attendance at your son’s graduation in 1998.
Now you may ask, why I was overcome with joy about this commencement speaker at Bucknell that most here would grouse, “who is she, and why should I care”. Audra is the daughter of friends of our family. Remember her well as a child, at 9, years of age, and elated that she is now a successful and making a contribution to our country.
Last Edit: Jun 13, 2021 6:03:31 GMT -5 by Crucis#1