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Commencement Facts

SpeakersWhat are the names of all of Dartmouth's Commencement speakers?

Believe it or not, Dartmouth has not always had a Commencement speaker; in fact, we have not always had Commencement!

Records of Commencement from the early years of the College are incomplete, and in the 19th century, many ceremonies had several speakers. Notable speech makers from that time included Daniel Webster, Class of 1801, in 1806; Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1843; and Walt Whitman in 1872.

From 1943 to 1945 no ceremony was held at all. From 1900 to 1942 and 1972 to 1982, there were no speakers from outside Dartmouth. The Dartmouth Alumni Magazine coverage of the 1972 Commencement states: "There was no outside speaker for the first time since 1946 ... The omission represented an effort to keep the total ceremony to a reasonable length and still retain the individual award of degrees. In place of an outside speaker at Commencement, four of the six honorary degree recipients participated Saturday in a series of seminars ... ."

Below is the list of speakers from 1946 to present -- which includes both alumni and heads of state -- courtesy of the College Archives in Rauner Special Collections Library:

1946
Harold Stassen
Former Governor of Minnesota

1947
Robert Houghwout Jackson
Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

1948
Frank Porter Graham
President, University of North Carolina

1949
Everett Moore Baker '24
Dean of Students, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1950
George Frost Kennan
Counselor of the Department of State

1951
Reinhold Niebuhr
Professor of Applied Christianity, Union Theological Seminary

1952
Rt. Hon Sir Oliver Shewell Franks
Ambassador of Great Britain to the United States

1953
Lester Bowles Pearson
The Secretary of State of External Affairs, Canada, and President of the General Assembly of the U.N.

Dwight David Eisenhower
President of the United States
(delivered an "informal response" following Pearson's Commencement address)

1954
Roy Edward Larsen
President of Time Inc.

1955
Robert Frost, Class of 1896
Poet

1956
Detlev Wulf Bronk
President, the Rockefeller Institute

1957
Douglas Horton
Dean, Harvard Divinity School

1958
Fr. Theodore Martin Hesburgh
President of the University of Notre Dame

Theodor Heuss
President of the Federal Republic of Germany
(delivered an "informal response" to Hesburgh's Commencement address)

1959
Charles Habib Malik
President, United Nations General Assembly

1960
Whitney North Seymour
Lawyer; President-elect, American Bar Association

1961
Jean Monnet
French Statesman

1962
Arthur Hobson Dean
Lawyer; Chairman of the U.S. Delegation to the Nuclear Test Ban Conference at Geneva

1963
James Herman Robinson
Director, Operation Crossroads Africa

1964
Jean Lesage
Premier of Quebec

1965
Stuart Udall
Secretary of the Interior

1966
John Williams Macy Jr.
Chairman, United States Civil Service Commission

1967
Robert Henry Winters
Minister of Trade and Commerce, Canada

1968
Jacob Javits
U.S. Senator

1969
Nelson A. Rockefeller '30
Governor of the State of New York

1970
William Ayres Arrowsmith
Professor of Classics, University of Texas

1971
Gunnar Karl Myrdal
Professor of Economics, Stockholm University

1972-1982
No speakers from outside Dartmouth

1983
Paul Adolph Volcker
Chairman of the Federal Reserve

1984
Howard Henry Baker Jr.
U.S. Senator and Senate Majority Leader

1985
Beverly Sills
General Director, New York City Opera

1986
Stephen Warren Bosworth '61
U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines

1987
Bill Bradley
U.S. Senator

1988
Marian Wright Edelman
Lawyer; Founder and President of the Children's Defense Fund

1989
Joseph Brodsky
Poet

1990
Jill Kathryn Ker Conway
President Emerita, Smith College

1991
Elizabeth Dole
President, American Red Cross

1992
Oscar Arias Sanchez
Former President of Costa Rica and Nobel Laureate for Peace

1993
Bill Moyers
Journalist

1994
Robert B. Reich '68
Secretary of Labor

1995
William Jefferson Clinton
President of the United States

1996
David Halberstam
Journalist and Author

1997
Paavo Lipponen '64
Prime Minister of Finland

1998
Doris Kearns Goodwin
Historian and Bibliographer

1999
George J. Mitchell
Former U.S. Senator and Senate Majority Leader

2000
Shirley Ann Jackson
President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

2001
Madeleine Korbel Albright
Former U.S. Secretary of State

2002
Fred McFeely Rogers '50
Creator and Host, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and CEO of Family Communications Inc.

2003
David McCullough
Pulitzer Prize-winning Author

2004
Jeffrey R. Immelt '78
Chairman and CEO, General Electric Company

2005
Tom Brokaw
Former Anchor and Managing Editor, NBC Nightly News

2006
Elie Wiesel
Author and Nobel Laureate for Peace

2007
Henry M. Paulson Jr. '68
Secretary of the Treasury

2008
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
President of Liberia

2009
Louise Erdrich '76
Author

2010
Stephen Henry Lewis
Co-founder and Co-director, AIDS-Free World

2011
Conan O'Brien
Late-Night Comedy Host and Stand-Up Comedian

2012
Wendy Kopp
Founder and chief executive officer of Teach for America

2013
Geoffrey Canada
Chief executive officer of Harlem Children's Zone, Inc.

2014
Shonda Rhimes '91
Producer, Screenwriter, and Director

Last Updated: 6/17/14