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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4 Comments

  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.

    http://www.vassar.edu/commencement/020526.kushner.html

  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:

    threedogblog.blogs.com/three_dog_blog/2004/05/joseph_brodsky_.html

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