What's the over/under for number of posts before this turns into a political mud slinging match?
OT? Graduatin' Season. Who had the Worst Commencement Speaker?
Rutherford B. Hayes was the worst commencement speaker ever! All he talked about was old people stuff. Yawn
Dick costolo. Something about twitter and technology. Also improv. Rabble rabble ruining society. Whoops I'm getting close to 140 characters
His speech was great.
Went into the speech wondering what would happen and actually enjoyed listening to it. Could have been far worse.
Just imagine how good it could have been if he didn't write that speech the same morning he delivered it.
I thought he was great. I at least got a few laughs out of it. Student speaker, however, was quite cliche.
I agreed, the student's speech reminded me of a high school graduation speech. Also, what was up with the one professor who just rambled on about the movie Lincoln.
"Lincoln" rambler was outgoing Dean of LSA, Terrence MacDonald.
The student speaker was pretty bland. Would you believe that I applied? My application was incredibly energetic and innovative...but they turned me down. Sucks.
Graduated from Wayne State SoM on Monday and ours was Dr. Grover, who is the public policy manager for the AAMC. He gave a pretty political speech. I didn't really think it was appropriate for the venue. But whatever, I'm a doctor now, so IDGAF!
Ah, apologies, I didn't realize this was a UM Commencement speaker thread.
Graduated in 2007. Sat front row for Bill Clinton. He was fantastic. Say what you want about his politics, the man's a hell of a speaker.
Sure as hell beats the speaker from the last 2 years. Usually they just pick a random faculty and he tries to impress us and fails.
I was there and I agree.
For the life of me, I can not remember who spoke at my commencement. They were that good....
Sandwiched around presidents is ... Cathy.
...we had Mamphela A. Ramphele (pronounced Ram-FAY-lay), at the time the vice chancellor of the University of Cape Town and South Africa's only top female university administrator of African ancestry. My friends at Emory had the freaking Dalhi Lama! I am not knocking Ms. Ramphele's accomplishments...but damn it was an awful speach...and everyone I know was extremely disappointed. Even my high school had better speakers like Maya Angelou and Shirley Chisholm. One of my only criticisms of my entire Michigan experience.
We had UN secretary general Kofi Annan, so we had it pretty good.
...u guys did have a much better speaker.
1997. And it rained.
Strong contender right here.
I had the UMich president (Duderstadt). I can't remember a single word he said. It was cold. It rained.
I opted just for the Engineering ceremony inside Crisler.
Can't remember if there was a speaker.... but it was dry.
Itt doesn't get any worse than Lee Bollinger in a 38 degree rain storm! I also blew it off for the CoE graduation in Crisler and was treated to Phil Condit, the soon-to-be disgraced CEO of Boeing.
That was a monsoon. And he just kept talking...and talking....and talking.....
The worst ever.
edit: wow....lots of 97 grads here!
It was Ken Burns who I had not heard of but now it seems like he's everywhere. Positive thing to waiting until December is I got to see the 97 football season - after 4 straight years of 4 loss seasons it was worth it.
I thought Ken Burns was great.
was the best I ever heard. It was 2003 at my daughters HS graduation. He spoke about when he interviewed for the job at my (and my daughter's) high school. He was chosen over another good guy in my HS Football Coach.
Lloyd was almost my HS coach. It is difficult to grasp but true. Lloyd said he regretted not getting the job because of the HS tradition we had. Somehow I think he landed a job that had just a little bit more tradition, but not by much.
I still have it on tape and I transcribed it too.
Unbeatable. My condolences.
This person understands this game.
My undergrad commencement speaker was Jennifer Granholm. I'm not really ashamed to state my belief that she was a shitty, shitty governor -- and wasn't even a Michigan alum at that.
But then Obama showed up in 2010 and brought balance back. Even my dad, who's about as anti-Obama as it gets, had to concede that he was a helluva speaker.
She called every one in the audience who didn't have a job, "LOSERS". That was probably the majority of the graduating class of 2003. Me included. I kind of don't want to be called a loser at my own graduation.
She also spoke before President Obama in 2010 and was horrible. Obama was great though
2003 was my graduation as well. All politics aside, that just was a very weird speech and didn't seem very appropriate for the occasion.
I can top Jennifer Granholm. Mine was Rick Snyder. He kept talking about how much of a "nerd" he was in undergrad at Michigan. Plus a good number of students were protesting that day took away from what should be a celebration of our accomplishments.
It seems like Governers rarely do well speaking at Michigan's commencement. I wish I graduated the prior year as I heard Obama was actually good.
Don't you also remember the long, extremely awkward part where he went on for quite a while about "not being afraid of your size".
Something about how the school is really large and yet still manages to be really great academically. By the time he spelled that out though the entire crowd was thinking about how scary big their junk was.
I also remember he menioned that his roomate must have been in the botony program because he had a bunch of plants growing in his closet. I giggled.
I agree the though, politics aside, the picketing of the graduation ceremony seemed to focus the attention on the speaker and not the students, which is a shame.
Like both Clintons, Granholm, Obama, and whoever else can come along and speak and not one feels the need to make a big deal out of it, but Snyder does it and we need a scene? You can be for or against any of these people or their politics, but it's not a heavily poltiic forum, it's just a pat speech. People need to get over themselves.
Was going to say the same thing. My mom actually came to me afterwards and said that she voted for Granholm once but couldn't see herself voting for her again since she basically called UM students "losers" for expecting to do something with their lives. I know I'm missing some nuances there, but it was a horrible speech. The guy who spoke the next year at my wife's graduation wasn't anyone super-famous (I think he was an editor for a car magazine), but he had some crazy stories and seemed to get a kick out of talking to everyone. Even though it rained.
Weirdest speaker I saw? My brother graduated from MSU during the winter term and they had the CEO of some cheap appliance company (Proctor-Silex?). Wasn't really bad, but it kind of spoke to MSU's status that the goal was to be a CEO of a mid-sized sweat shot. Also, he was apparently a horrible student who lucked into the position because of family connections. Go Staee!
Founder of Automobile magazine. When I heard he'd be our commencement speaker, I felt pretty let down... but he was a great speaker, and very funny. I really enjoyed his work.
Conversely, we had Larry Page for the engineering graduation in 2005, and were very excited about it (Google co-founder and Michigan alum). But he wasn't actually much of a speaker. Kind of rambled on about how we should do more to explore outer space. Not the worst graduation speech I've heard (I think Granholm takes the cake for that), but not that great. We likewise just had Steve Wozniak (Apple co-founder) this year for Berkeley's graduation, and it was kind of the same deal. Turns out really smart engineering types are often not good public speakers. Shocking, I know.
Politics are verboten, bitte.
Mentioning a political figure is not necessarily astray of the "no politics" rule.
I meant to reply to michimoby and his/her comments about a political figure.
But still, a politician was elected by some percent of the electorate. Now, go poll everyone in the universe you ever meet and find out how many actually liked the Cathy comic strip. Your argument is invalid.
I figured, but I don't know how his comments were remotely political. I don't think many people, regardless of party, would argue that she wasn't an awful governor. That isn't politics; it's a fact.
yep, most people are aware I am pretty darn liberal and I agree Jenny was a terrible governor. Michigan has not had a quality governor since George Romney.
Most of the time the gov shows up to U of M's commencement anyways i feel like and all of a sudden he was the main speaker. Didn't care for it one bit regardless of politics.
Went to Northwestern (grew up a huge Michigan fan, needed a journalism school not in East Lansing), so this might not count, but I graduated in 2003, and instead of Bill Clinton, who pulled out a month in advance, we got...
Who, you might ask? Excellent question! She was the ambassador to Pakistan during 9/11, having been on the job for two months, and then quit in June, because it was too hard. Which was one of her main messages: when things are really hard, it's OK to quit and go home.
Also, she introduced her speech as "Wendy's words of wisdom... DOT COM! Hahahaha."
Seriously. It's in the article about it.
Atleast you didn't have to suffer John McCain. Although Henry Lennix for SoComm commencement was fantastic.
My girlfriend, now wife, graduated NU in 2005. Not political, John McCain gave an absolutely awful speech. It was the start of his hard right-turn in advance of the 2008 elections, so it was uber-political and way over the top to the point where I'd be very surprised if he actually believed much of what he said.
To balance the politics, I think Granholm's speech before Obama in 2010 was worse, again uber-political, but since she wasn't the main speaker, it was at least much shorter.
My brother had David Davis, the founder of Automobile Magazine. It was an okay speech, but pretty low end for Michigan.
In high school, the mayor was speaker and he spent the entire speech detailing the negotiations with the Detroit Lions to build their practice facility in town and ensuring us that AP would get the tax revenue. I left inspired--if that boob could become mayor of a 28K person city, I knew I could become much more successful with little effort. I was right.
I was part of the graduation class that heard David Davis speak (2004) and I thought he was fantastic. No one had heard of this guy and he came out being pretty funny and not condescending at all. While he did talk about his experiences (the man lost half his face in a race car accident!), he did point on the key fact that we should live our lives and take other calculated risks while we can. Heck, he even called out a graduate by name because of his angry Michigan Daily letter to the editor griping how Michigan State got Condoleeza Rice as its speaker and Michigan got a no-namer guy. And he ended the speech with the "If you want God to laugh, tell him your plans for the future" quote. He got a long, loud ovation for that speech, so I think it was pretty darn good.
Now the student speaker that year on the other hand was awful. My friends and I were rolling our eyes and tuning her out after about the first three minutes. All she did was talk about discovering herself and had zero message for her fellow graduates.
My one brother had Bill Clinton in 2007 and he was fantastic. My father is not his biggest fan but admitted it was a pretty darn good speech and liked what he had to say.
They got the address of the facility to be in Allen Park, but most of the land is on Dearborn property...so they get the tax revenue. All Allen Park got was the pub.
I graduated in 2004 with David E. Davis, Jr. as the speaker. Who, you ask? Exactly.
Turns out, he was an awesome, awesome speaker. I can still quote a few lines from the speech. Plus, he looked like Santa Clause http://www.ur.umich.edu/0304/May10_04/26.shtml and made fun of the fact that we didn't think he should be the graduation speaker (quoting--and agreeing with--a Michigan Daily letter to the editor complaining about him).
"Plus, he looked like Santa Clause"
who spoke at my commencement, so i googled it.
turns out it was james duderstadt -- president of the university. i guess they couldn't even get anyone to come speak. maybe that's why i didn't bother going, though i don't really remember.
he was a leader in implementing some pretty significant policies with impact well beyond michigan. point was he was somebody who lived in ann arbor and reported to work every day at u-m; and although compelling, wasn't exactly the headline fodder that the commencement-speaker arms race seems to demand.
Back to Yale athletics. People in the Athletic Department hated him.
He wrote another really interesting book: Nuclear Reactor Analysis.
Worth having on your bookshelf. Worth reading if you're a nuclear engineer...
I went and it was nothing special. He talked about Rumeal Robinson, which was fun except that I'd heard him say the same thing a week or so before.
I guess it's a tradition that in his (or her) first year the president gives the speech (Bollinger did in 1997 and I assume Coleman did in 2002 or 2003).
It's a Michigan tradition that the University President is the commencement speaker for their first spring commencement. That was my year, too. Don't remember a thing he said.
I don't know how she's a professional writer, making a speech that flat and uninspiring. Not to mention she was a part of 'The West Wing'.
Anyone who wants to hear a good commencement speech should YouTube the David Foster Wallace at Kenyon or Will Ferrel at Harvard.
I can't remember who spoke. He was an old engineer and spent half an hour discussing the size of a man's slide rule. It was quite phallic. Needless to say, it was not the best commencement speech.
This wasn't a bad speech, but a surprising a choice. I attended a graduation at Michigan Tech many years ago and the speaker was Rosa Parks. The vast majority of the graduates were engineers and the composition of the audience was beyond vanilla white. Seemed like a nice lady and she gave a decent speech, but I never would have guessed the speaker beforehand to say the least. Not much civil rights activity occurred in Houghton, MI.
Yeah, I had Cathy Guisewhite as well for my commencement (I'm also class of 95) She wasn't bad, but considering that MSU had Bill Clinton that year (political leanings aside, a more accomplished public figure than the creator of 'Cathy').... chyeah.
Guisewite was 94.
My sister graduated the year the Xerox guy was the speaker. Biggest applause of an otherwise dull speech was when he revealed he helped invent spellcheck.
Then Bo got an honorary degree, went to the podium, and turned that guy into a footnote.
Speaker was Larry Page (Google Founder) and he was awesome. Really an influential person in the world and a UM grad. Even though he was geeky and naturally not a great speaker, he had great things to say and was very easy to pay attention to.
Now I am lined up to graduate when there is a new governor (maybe), and political leanings aside, that would be less than memorable. Usually new governors speak at Michigan Commencements in their first year in office.
We graduated the same year. I thought he sucked. That said I was pretty hungover so maybe I was just feeling salty...
And by we I mean your sister and I of course...
When one goose is shot down two other geese follow it to earth to nurse it to health.
High School Dean Guy would like to let you know that leaders are also followers.
Political Columnist George Will. Had not heard of him then, still have no idea who he is now. (shrugs)
He's a Cubs fan. I guess you didn't catch the Ken Burns documentary Baseball, or watch much Sunday morning TV in the last 30 years, or ever read Newsweek or a newspaper.
you need to entertain yourself with more than cartoons, comic books and video games these days?
You've really never even heard of George Will?
being a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps?
Bit confused here. I graduated in 95 (highlight was clearly Juwan coming back to graduate), and I don't remember Guisewite. Our speaker was Marian Wright Edelman.
Kurt Vonnegut spoke at mine. Brought me to tears.
Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at mine. Whether she was the worst or not depends on your political affiliation I suppose.
I was there for Hillary in '93. Politics aside, she was pretty bad. Maybe not the worst, but not good. As a teacher, I hear a couple graduation speeches a year at least. Most of them are better than the banal tripe that Hillary offered that day, and almost all of them are delivered with more energy and sincerity. I really felt like she didn't want to be there.
I never heard her speech. I graduated from the College of Engineering, so I skipped the general commencement and attended the engineering commencement which was in Crisler that afternoon.
I imagine her husband's speech was great, even though their politics mirror each other, because he's an engaging speaker. She wasn't bad bad, like Cathy stuff, but just something you'd expect from a student speech rather than a big time public figure. The person was memorable; the speech was forgettable.
At my undergrad Purdue, I had Martin Jischke. Who is he? Well he is the former Purdue University president. All I remember that it was the most boring speech I have had to sit through. He is perhaps the worst school president in our universities history. He is remembered for being all about dollars and cents and screwing the students over. Although I have heard horrible things about the current school president Mitch Daniels from a friend who is an associate professor at the university.
We graduated the same year...
I'll stick strictly to the contents of the speeches and say that my speaker was Rick Snyder and he decided to tell us the story of how he discovered bagels.
The next year Sanjay Gupta spoke and told everyone where on campus he was conceived and then told the graduates he would buy them drinks. I felt a little ripped off.
I searched the Ann Arbor bars. He never fricken showed. Yes, I'm still bitter.
Mark Emmert was mine. Sad, I know.
to inflict one final jolt of pain on graduating students and their parents. With very rare exception, they're either excruciatingly dull, vapid, shallow, stupid, preeningly moralistic, or boring.
The commencement speaker for my graduation from UM's architecture school in 1978 was Walter Mondale. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Cathy was the speaker in 94. Bush Sr. was 93 and Hillary Clinton was 95. Ack!
Hillary was '93. Bush Sr. was '91 for my sister. But I like your world better. In your world, I'm still 39! woo hoo!!
Not from my own college graduation, but from a relative's college graduation ceremonies at Syracuse University in 2006 at the Carrier Dome (note Syracuse alum, Jim Boeheim's college rommmate, Detroit Pistons star, NBA Hall of Famer and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing seated near the commencement speaker on the left side of the screen)
Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman) gets an honorary degree from Boston University and calls the school "one of the greatest universities on the planet" (also not from my own college graduation)
One of my sons picked up two U of M degrees.....Obama and Larry Page were the speakers. Politically, you can't do better than a sitting president and rumor has it that Larry Page didn't do too badly in the business world.
The Obama thing was a pain...had to get there early for security, and then you had to wait for his highness to fly out of there after a few thousand hand shakes.
I graduated in '91 and drew George Bush The Elder. It was a terrible speech about the Great Society that had absolutely nothing to do with anybody present. This was aside from anybody's political beliefs, it was just an awful graduation speech. Also, half the student body decided to go crazy protesting, which I found pretty disrespectful and ruined things even further.
I graduated from a private MI college in 2005 and George W Bush was our commencement speaker. He actually wasn't too bad, he even had a couple of funny jabs at himself. Of course everyone was up in arms at that time about Iraq, ect, ect, so there were plenty of protesters around but nothing too crazy. No matter what your political beliefs, it's cool to get to see a sitting president give a speech up close and personal.
His name was Abraham Lincoln...you may have heard of him?
The speech was bland (mostly) and dragged. However, I laughed my ass off when he made the point for us Michigan grads to "be proud of your size"
and you and your 95 classmates win, hands down.
I went to a small private school in Michigan and my college graduation was cancelled b/c there was a norovirus outbreak on campus, so the health department said we couldn't hold an event that brings in people from all over the midwest and risk getting more people sick. So they held it the next weekend but I went to a friend's wedding instead.
I don't really get the hubub w/ graduations. They are awfully boring to sit through, with or without a good speaker. I can see it being important to a family that is seeing a first generation college graduate or something like that but man, I have loathed every one I've ever attended.
May, 1991: George Bush the First. Such a bad public speaker.
Mine in Winter of 2003 and my then fiancee and now wife's graduation in Spring 2004.
My commencement speaker was Thomas Miller, the US Ambassador to Greece. I don't remember a word he said unfortunately, he just didn't make much of an impression at all.
My wife had Automobile Magazine's founder David Davis, who was already mentioned previously as being funny for pointing out how the student body was upset he was there as he was kind of a no-name guy. He gave a good speech though, better than mine 4 months prior.
I wish I had been at Northwestern for their speaker in 2011 though, that speech was hysterical. "Northwestern's Alumni list is truly impressive. This University has graduated best selling authors, olympians, presidential candidates, grammy winners, peabody winners, emmy winners...and that's just me!" Here's a link to the transcript of his speech, its some funny stuff: LINK
a friend of mine's lil sis went to NU and was there for that speech. I got to watch their home video of the graduation, and he killed. Funny as all hell, thanks for linking to the transcript!
Not my graduation (I was still an undergrad) but I watched his speech. I actually didn't mind it, but he had about the same tone and sophistication as on his tv show.
This has actually been a board topic before - probably last year, I'm guessing.
Anyway, I answered 1988 Marshal D Shulman and was criticized by another MGoer, but I stand by my opinion. That dude'ss speech literally harshed my buzz.
1986 Javier Perez de Cuellar
Ughh. Yes I went Ohio being an Ohio boy and couldn't afford Michigan tuition. It was 1997, and my feelings were, I got to listen to this blow hard talk about his Heismans again? Thankfully right when he got up to the podium, it started pouring. They canceled the rest of graduation and I picked up my diploma in a Michigan shirt later in the day. I was wearing a Michigan shirt under my gown in the shoe too. Ticked off my classmates, so it brings back good memories!
I went to GWU and we had Michelle Obama.
The speech was terrible and combine it with the fact it was long and it was a 100 degree humid day in DC, it was miserable.
Her speech just seemed rambling and disjointed. To this day I still have no idea what her point was.
Some old african american woman droning on about "she-roes". I ask any of my friends that graduated with me that day. No one can remember her name. We just remember the LSA president made a comment in the daily that the administration could have done better. . .
I helped set up a conference here on campus she spoke at recently.
I had to look her up. There was nothing memorable from her speach.
What a special day.
For the most part, you don't really remember much about the graduation speech cuz a lot of them have the same message. "Take on the world" "anything you put your mind to, you can accomplish" "nothing is impossible" that type of message.
However, you remember who spoke at your graduation. We had Governor Snyder. I thought he had a pretty good speech, but it wasn't memorable at all. Meanwhile, the year before had Obama. Obama's speech was pretty awful, since he talked about the need to put partisan difference aside rather than inspiring the class like he did during his first presidential campaign. STILL, those kids got The President at their commencement. The year after was Sanjay Gupta. This year was Dick Costollo. When you look at some of the past speakers, Snyder is one of the most underwhelming from a name perspective. That's why I'd contend Snyder, and it has nothing to do with his speech.
But at least you remember.
I would doubt 50% of the class from 1996 remembers who spoke.
Any Workaholics fans out there? If so, you'll love to know that Anders Holm delivered one of the keynote commencement addresses at UW-Madison this year. He's a Wisconsin alum (former swimmer, too?), so there's a definite connection. My favorite snippet from the local Madison newspaper:
He specifically welcomed the “Badger grandmas” and told them “it’s mind blowing to think that just 50, 60 years ago you guys were pioneering the walk of shame.”
Mine was Rick Snyder. He just recited his résumé for 20 minutes, it was terrible. The year before the speaker was Obama and the year after was Sanjay Gupta.
Basically, "I got blown up in Iraq, buy my book."
But I graduated on the Diag, bitches.
Law school was some famous int'l arbitrator. He spoke on all his famous accomplishments and how great he was and how he was flying to Europe after the speech.
I graduated in Dec. (1980) with a BS in Computer Engineering, so we had a small commencement ceremony for the Engin school in Hill Auditorium. That was the good part. The bad part was the speaker was Coleman Young who was in his early years as mayor of Detroit. He was a snooze and a half.
Best an all star guy....GO BLUE
...Johnnetta Cole was just awful. Here I am, graduating from the University of Michigan, and my graduation speaker is: the president of a small women's college that I've never heard of?
I actually went into it with an open mind, thinking "hey, if they brought her here, she must be really interesting." She wasn't.
and our grad speaker was the late David Halbestram. I know he was a respected journalist and author but, quite frankly, I found his speech the opposite of memorable. I went to graduate school at Syracuse and we had Bill Clinton who, whether you agree with his politics or not, gives great speeches. I think it has a lot to do with his charisma. Whereas Bill is very upbeat, David Halberstram was along the lines of Kissinger.
Mine was Javier Perez de Cuellar, Secretary General of the UN. The year before it was Gov. Blanchard and the year after it was Mike Wallace from 60 minutes. Here's a list: http://bentley.umich.edu/research/guides/commence/. I think I would have liked Jeff Daniels' the best.
Forget who it was, but for December 2002 graduation we had a poet laureaute who kept talking about how well he knew "Mary Sue Johnson." It was Mary Sue Johnson this and Mary Sue Johnson that. And someone finally leaned forward and tried to whisper (but it got picked up by the mic anyway): "It's COLEMAN!"
April 30, 1988
Dr. Marshall D. Shulman, UM '37
Began by describing the conditions in the Soviet Union in 1937 making the grads restless immediately. Shortly, the boos and beach balls came out. Dr. Shulman stopped his speech to admonish us for our lack of respect and to tell us we were an embarrassment to the university.
April 29, 2016
Michael Bloomberg, Billionaire
Warmed up the crowd mentioning the usual A2 hotspots and cliches like Zingermans, the Diag, Brady, and "...so help me Harbaugh." He challenged the "safe spaces" as sheltering students from the difficulties of the real world. He took his whacks at demagoguery, both parties, but also lauded the students for the anti-islam protests.