Author Commencement Speeches

Bill Clinton: 1998
Hilary Rodham Clinton: 1969 (as Hilary Rodham) 1992
Richard Fenyman: 1974
Doris Kearns Goodwin: 1998
John Grisham: 1992
Lyndon B. Johnson: 1965
Nora Ephron: 1996
Erica Jong: [Booed this year; anyone have a transcript?]
John F. Kennedy: 1962
Stephen King: 2001 2005
Wally Lamb: 2003
Madeline L’Engle: 1991
Ursula K. LeGuin: 1983
Frank McCourt: 1999
David McCullough: 1986
Toni Morrison: 2004
Conan O’Brien: 2000
Anna Quindlen: 1999 2002
Salman Rushdie: 1996
Richard Russo: 2004
Alexander Solzhenitsyn: 1978 (controversy)
Gloria Steinem: 1993
Jon Stewart: 2004
Kurt Vonnegut: 1997 (falsely attributed to Vonnegut — Kofi Annan actually spoke at MIT that year) 2004
David Foster Wallace: 2005
William Allen White: 1936
Howard Zinn: 2005

[UPDATE: Well, well, looks like Kottke ripped me off.]

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  1. Heh, you have listed two I heard firsthand, both in their ways quite wonderful and not the usual boilerplate at all. One even made me a little verklempt at the time and again now on the first read in many years. Thanks.

  2. My favorite is Tony Kushner’s commencement address at Vassar in 2002.

  3. My vote is for Rick Russo’s 2004 Colby address and, well, Howard Zinn …

  4. Joseph Brodsky’s address at Dartmouth 1989. A different take on the mind-death and boredom that Wallace warns of. No online version, but a big chunk of it here:

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