The "Good Society" Speech
Who was your Commencement Speaker?
but I vaguely remember the buzz on campus was something like "We Got Bush!" when he was announced as the speaker.
They were selling T-shirts on campus with that slogan.
Originally, each college was supposed to have its own Commencement and we were scheduled to have Carol Simpson from ABC news as the LSA speaker. Once they were able to get Bush, Commencement was held at Michigan Stadium (which was being renovated to install the grass field). My buddies who graduated in 92 ended up getting Carol Simpson.
Rather disappointing - I think the year before they had Walter Cronkite.
Here's a list of speakers going back to 1989:
The pdf file shows that the mayor of Detroit was the commencement speaker in '94 (equally underwhelming as Cathy).
I was right and they are just covering up: http://www.infoplease.com/spot/commencement1.html
Another poster mentioned that her speech was a hit. I mostly wasn't paying attention and I don't remember anyone particularly mentioning her speech as noteworthy. So it might have been good - I just don't remember.
Oh - and we didn't have the band because of the weather....
I'm embarrassed that I don't remember. So obviously didn't have a huge impact on me.... but I'll never forget the gorgeous, if a little chilly, late-April day in the Big House.
If anyone out there is also a 1988 grad, could you help a guy restore the dead brain cell that housed the name of our commencement speaker?? I've tried numerous times to search for this online, but no luck.
granted, it's from people posting about it on some blog, and we all know that certainly can't be trusted...
sounded like a hell of a time from what they're saying
and more of a confirmation...a nytimes article from 1988 about it. seemed like a tense time and apparently shulman didn't even finish his speech.
That was my brother's graduation. His speech was a disaster. It was so boring that the students were batting beach balls during it. At the end of it he said something along the lines of "I have never been so insulted in all my life".
I think I would take pride in having insulted a speaker so much that he mentioned it if he was truly that bad.
At least they didn't make him cry.
Interestingly enough, I remembered Jeane Kirkpatrick and the talk of protesting her presence in the days leading up to the commencement. I'd almost convinced myself that she was the speaker, but it just didn't seem right, and much googling just couldn't find an answer.
I can't tell you how many different variations of "University of Michigan 1988 Spring Commencement" I tried on Google as well as Umich and Bentley websites. And where the hell my printed program from that day is.... ugh!
Thanks again. +1000 if I could.
I was looking through some of the names that graduated that year with us. There were a few a recognized. One was Ann Coulter, JD.
**Bites tongue hard**
more than welcome, glad i could help
It was aweful. I thought the students were being very rude (and we were), but it turns out the parents were heckling and making as much noise.
I think they changed the ceremony after that year didn't they?
From the Children's Defense Fund. The only thing I really remember is her singling out Juwan Howard for his accomplishment in graduating. I myself did not get any props.
That was the only good part of her speech. The rest of it was something along the lines of "PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!11!!", kind of like Sally Struthers but louder and more emotional. I hoped we would get somebody either prestigious (PotUSA) or entertaining, but we got neither.
I sat 1 row behind and 4 seats to the left of Juwan Howard and Jimmy King, which was slightly memorable.
and the rest of my classmates. I skipped out on the LS&A ceremony (Bush I) and attended the RC graduation where every graduate got to speak. Much more inspiring and more interesting than the hearing Bush prattle on.
Happy to see another RCer on here, though I went to LSA grad as well. Amanpour's year, and while I was disappointed when she was announced, I remember her speech as being pretty good. Way better than Mary Sue's, which lamely quoted the Beatles
While he was UN Secretary General ('99). I'd say a pretty good draw for my class.
Kofi Annan was a huge name and pretty good draw. I was supposed to graduate in 1998, when the speaker was a black educator from South Africa (Mamphela Ramphele). My sister graduated in 1996, when the speaker was the president of Spelman College. Those were like, "who?" We, on the other hand, got the secretary general of the UN. That was pretty big.
I walked in 2004 and we had some guy who started an automotive magazine or something. So not only was that not memorable but the day was dark, grey and rainy.
Particularly since a lot of those mags are based in Michigan (and at least one in Ann Arbor). They might not had to look far or pay for a lot of travel expenses...
Ok I found it, David E. Davis Jr., founder and editor emeritus of Automobile Magazine
Guy should've stuck to writing, not speaking. Put everyone to sleep. Plus it was just like a cliff's notes of his books on the 50s, 60s and Vietnam. No new material.
I'm with you on Halberstam. I remember being kind of excited about it as I had liked a the couple of his books that I had read, friends of mine were pissed that he fell well short of Kofi Annan, who spoke the year before, in the prestige factor. Halberstam told a story and the begin of his address about how long and boring the speaker was when he graduated and promised to be brief; a promise he did not keep.
...a couple people from my class. Boy, was that a horrible speech. Wish I stayed in bed and cured my hangover. I remember that he skipped a few pages of his speech because he could sense the restlessness of the crowd. It was a friggin hot day.
Also, IIRC, then President, Bill Clinton, was doing the commencement speech that very same just down the road at EMU. That was a kick in the nuts!
Awesome weather, boring speech. I do remember that Bollinger referenced allowing students into the President's house after we beat Penn State in '97 which got a huge cheer.
All I remember from that speach was that he railed on people going into consulting.
Here's a link to Halberstam's speech for those too lazy to search for it but not too lazy to read it:
Thanks for posting the link, takes me back a bit. It was better then I remembered, but I think Halberstam was a MUCH better writer than speaker so makes sense.
Figured I would used this as an excuse to link to DFW's commencement address at Kenyon college; now that's how its done.
Same here. Only thing I remember about the speech was that my friend sitting next to me fell asleep, slouched over in the bleachers.
Weird story about his death a couple years ago. He died in a car accident, the driver was a journalism grad student who was reportedly really pumped to meet one of his idols. Maaaan, that sucks.
I remember hearing about that but didn't realize until just now that he was the same person who spoke at commencement.
and man, from the looks of these replies, we usually get A+ speakers. kudos to the university for getting such great speakers and for having such a great reputation that such sought after speakers will come.
Because between this post and Obama speaking this year, you know you've doomed your class to hearing the Guy in the Taco Bell Denise commercial or something equally horrible...
(God, who is the lamest speaker you could imagine...? I mean, beyond like Troy Smith or something evil).
I hear you are all graduating today. Is that cool...is that still cool?
I honestly thought Woodruff blew and was even more pissed because the year before us was an ex-President of the United States of America. Woodruff was famous for being a reporter who got injured getting out of his armored vehicle in a war zone. Not to be harsh, I'm not making light of what happened, but it wasn't really oriented on where we were going forward. He just told a lot of anecdotes and unfunny jokes.
...wasn't the commencement in the Diag. That was my MBA graduation year and skipped the Woodruff. It looked like an absolute logistical nightmare. Glad I skipped that one...
It worked, it looked awesome, the weather was near perfect, and it will never be done again.
Logistics is a stupid reason to miss your own graduation.
Fred Gwynne. He did it for 50 bucks and a carton of Marlboros.
robert pinsky. i dont remember a word of it. but bollinger was good and justice ginsburg showed up dressed as abe lincoln to get her honorary degree
She always dresses like that. Makes her feel special and cozy.
Though, I bet there was a resemblance...
She got an honorary degree from the U for her work on "affirmative action issues and passionate defense of women's issues". Within 24 months she was hearing oral arguments in Grutter v Bollinger and Graetz v Bollinger. Definitely no appearance of impropriety there...
I had an English major friend sitting next to me and she was like "who is this guy?" Speech was limp linguini.
I will contrast that though with my sister's commencement the next year at SpartyNo. Cheney was their speaker, and no matter what your politics, he gave a hell of a speech that had everyone give a (legit) standing ovation after. He threw in some campus drinking references, his timing on the jokes was crisp, and he actually provided meaningful advice about growing up and keeping true to your convictions while also recognizing the importance of doing the right thing when others aren't looking. Politics aside, it was a good commencement address.
My wife graduated in the Granholm class. The "some of you will be losers! Don't be a loser!" has provided comedic relief in our family for many years now....
I graduated in Winter '07 and Francis Collins, the leader of the Human Genome Project, was our speaker. I have little interest in the medical field and didn't know who this guy was beforehand but he rocked. Apparently Obama is pretty high on him too: http://www.ur.umich.edu/0809/Jul13_09/01.php.
My girlfriend graduated last spring and had Google co-founder Larry Page as a speaker. Being an introverted engineer, he was not a particularly good public speaker. However, his speech was motivational and I loved hearing his Michigan story.
Definitely pearls before swine. He was a good instructor and a really nice guy.
I don't remember the substance of it, but I do remember being mildly impressed at how the speech was largely apolitical. I'd be pretty interested to see what she'd say at a commencement today.
"If any of you end up in HR, let me know"
some dude I never heard of David Halberstam. I had to look it up!