Lawrence Kasdan (director of the Big Chill). It was OK...
Who was your Commencement Speaker?
it was really hard for me to give a shit.
the only thing i remember from the whole ceremony was that the student speaker was wearing some sort of plant vine instead of a hood or tassels which prompted several "legalize weed!" shouts from the crowd.
Christiane Amanpour. I remember her speech being average.
I liked her opening about how the big house being under construction reminded her of her surroundings growing up. Excellent tactic when beginning a public speech.
Mine too. In case you didn't know, we graduated with Dick Enberg's daughter. I saw him walking to the commencement (he passed by the house we were at on State and Hoover) and he asked him if he wanted to share our keg with us. He said no, that his daughter who was graduating would get mad.
don't remember...much too stoned that day.
Bob Woodruff. It was OK. A lot better than the Xerox guy a few years before.
with Woodruff as our speaker. Not only is he a Michigan man, but I thought he was pretty inspiring to listen to. The guy's been through a lot.
Same deal, I thought he did an excellent job.
spell check dude? not so much.
I also had the spell check dude, and I apreciate all he has done for mispelings, but wonder why he couldn't have mroe influance on MgoBlog.
I had spell check dude and Bo. The whole thing really did seem like one big joke. Like haha spell check, oh bo just swore, silly old men.
But I have to say, I thought he was a helluva journalist and I love a lot of his books.
Re: Granholm. I hear what you're saying re: her point. She made her point, and the "losers" line was totally fair. But my real issue was her fairly theatrical performance of the whole thing, you know? Maybe petty, but it felt very phony.
Not very good, in my opinion.
I agree. She wasn't mine, but I was there for my wife. We still talk about how Granholm said something like "some of you will fail." Not really what you should be telling people at commencement.
Mine was David E. Davis, Jr. the next year. No one knew who he was (he was a racecar driver and founded one of the auto magazines) and a lot of people were pissed. But he gave a great speech and was pretty damn funny. I still remember some of the advice he gave.
Anybody else have a commencement speaker that when announced everyone was like "awwwwww", but when he or she gave the speech, it was like "they rocked!", and were particularly funny, or inspiring, or otherwise a big pleasant surprise?
I was at a professional conference in Nashville and the plenary speaker was Sarah Cannon, who played Minnie Pearl on "Hee-Haw" and and the Grand Ol' Opry. You know, the ol' bat with a price tag hanging off of her straw hat. We all rolled our eyes when we saw the program. I mean, come on.
That lady hit it out of the park. She had a lot of words of wisdom, and her years of performance meant she had superb timing for comedy and dramatic effect.
In '94 the commencement speaker was the creator of the comic strip Cathy. Pretty much the entire student body was like "WTF!?" when it was announced, but her speech ended up being a hit.
...seem to disagree.
I confess I wasn't there, but I got the impression from my friends who graduated that day that it was very entertaining and the crowd really enjoyed it. If anything, it was a break from the usual generic "GO FORTH AND CONQUER... CARPE DIEM" or politically-related humdrum.
I don't remember much from the speech other than the fact it was raining and cold. I was not happy given how much work it took to get to graduation. I remember seeing then President George H.W. Bush the year before. He was pretty good in my opinion.
I believe she said, "Some of you will be losers. You will. It's a fact," or some such awesomely inspiring tuff-luvin'
And oddly enough, re: David Davis - I knew a guy that worked for one of his Auto Mags in college, and thought the guy was great. Heard his speech was solid, too.
How do you comment on that speech without sounding political? Just NM...
I was there- that was my commencement. She said "some of you will go on to do wonderful things, xyz, this is where it all started," etc. She said "I know a lot of wonderful, amazing, blah blah" people who went to U of M. Winners. But there are also losers who went to the University of Michigan.
There was an audible gasp in the crowd when she said that. She rebounded to make her point- that we shouldn't take anything for granted, and should realize that the future is only what you make of it, and don't get too high on yourselves, 22-year-olds, because now real life starts, etc. But yeah- that "losers" line is what everyone remembered. Overall, I think a lot of people couldn't get past that line and didn't like the speech because of it. It's a good lesson in how the choice of a single word can really screw up an entire speech/presentation.
I was there as well. I wasn't impressed with the speech. Kofi Annan's in '99 was a lot better.
Same class as MGoPacquiao. It's funny because the Michigan Daily wrote an article basically saying "Who is this guy? This is a lame commencement speaker" (which, in fairness, is what we were all pretty much thinking). At the start of his speak he read part of the article and asked the author to stand up and big recognized. Pretty good speech, funny and interesting, but I still would have preferred someone "bigger name".
That guy was in my hall in EQ freshman year. It was great because he definitely was on the douche-y side.
Totally agree. She talked about how some of us would fail and to not be that person. I just remember it as the last time grass was in the Big House.
Speech was ok...started off by commenting on how she was glad we welcomed her by making the big house look like a war zone (during bleacher replacement)
That must have got some nervous laughter. Uhhh...yeah...
I was required to attend each commencement ceremony. My speaker was forgettable, but the best one I saw was Leonard Elmore, who wrote "Get Shorty," "Be Cool," and "Out of Sight," among other things.
Neg for mixing his name up.
Pos for complimenting a University of Detroit Jesuit High grad.
Second Pos for referencing "Out of Sight," a movie filmed all over Detroit/Bloomfield Hills, enabling ThWard to see Clooney and J-Lo in person.
Net? Plus 1!
Any chance you grew up on Kensington?
If so - yes, I'm a witch.
One of my HS buddies lived across the street from that house, too, on Kensington, and I was at his place a few nights during the late night shoots. The lighting completely lit up virtually every back yard on the street, it was nuts.
I can't believe I messed that up. I even paused for a minute before I wrote it, but then I wrote it wrong, anyway. My friend's dad is named Leonard Elmore, which I always thought was funny, so that's the name I always want to use.
Len Elmore ftw.
I thought it was boring...I had high expectations for him because of his books, but thought it was dull. Glad you enjoyed it.
When my brother graduated it was Cathy - discussed above...I thought she was kind of interesting.
No, I'm not kidding. IIRC it was a worst-case scenario late April / early May day in Michigan, too. Chilly, windy, and a tiny bit drizzly... I have no idea who was in charge of getting a speaker.
My sister had Bush I in '91 on a sunny, 60+F day.
The U President thing is always a bit lame, because you already have had them around. Probably heard them in some form before. But you didn't even get one of the good Presidents.
And is there some connection...the worse the speaker, the worse the weather? I'm betting those that get Obama are going to get a tan. (Again, no political commentary....just believe any President of the USA, sitting or not, is a pretty good catch).
I was Class of '97 so we had Lee Bollinger as our speaker. I couldn't tell you what he said though.
The best part of my graduation were the inflatable penises. After the ceremony, my younger cousins asked me "Will, I don't understand...why did they have giant finger balloons?"
I didn't go to my masters graduation, but for PhD it was Joe Schwarz. I think I might have been the only person in Crisler truly geeked about it (Winter graduation, obviously).
He was a state senator, and a good state senator, and contemplated a run for governor. A U-M medical school grad and a pretty good friend to the U up in Lansing.
I was always impressed by him as a senator but IIRC his speech wasn't that great. Content was fine, but there's a certain cadence that good speakers adopt when speaking to a crowd, and he just didn't have it.
Former President Bill Clinton
Very good imho, also, as others have said, the student speaker my year was excellent.
Class of '94. Also in the pouring/freezing rain.
She writes the Cathy comic strip. As underwhelming as you could imagine. The previous two years were H. Clinton and Bush and I remember us all thinking - seriously??
Seriously, you guys got the all time screw job. When you take into account who had been the prior speakers, what she did, what an underwhelming speaker I can only imagine her to be, and you throw in the weather....
I dare anyone to explain a worse experience than the class of '94.
Friggin' Cathy. All that work, all that money, all those parties, all those Fab Five dunks . . . for Cathy. Weather totally sucked too.
But I'm not bitter.
I thought we had Carole Simpson...clearly I wasn't inspired by her speech. And damn was it cold and wet.
my fellow 1994 graduates have memories of that graduation ceremony as mundane as mine are. Now I know it wasn't just me.
The "Good Society" Speech
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!
Winter 06...Dave Bing, pre mayor of the D. I remember being mildly excited as I'm a big sports fan, but came away mildy disapointed. It was too long and boring.
Let's just say that I think he's the opposite of kwame. If Kwame was a charismatic guy, then we can say that Bing is the opposite. Hopefully he does the opposite in office from Kwame.
My cousin at the commencement goes "I wish he wouldve just dunked the basketball and called it a day"
"I just got hear off the Nine-Fo, and damn! Ladies are hot up IINN HEERREEE! Who wants to go get some pitchers and dance it up at S'Keepers? I can expense this shit! I just got two things to say to you- 1) Keep Judge Greg Mathis on speed dial, and 2) Don't use a public phone for your booty call texts!"
a co-founder of google. he gave a strange speech. he told everyone about his dad looking up his moms skirt and how he was conceived. at least it was nice weather.
I can't recall a word of it which isn't surprising because it was in 1984 but I also think there was a sound problem. I think they used the same amplification system that they currently use for the band.
My commencement as well. Cronkite was not well, but I remember part of his address and his words of wisdom (paraphrasing): Go back. Don't leave college, it's the best time of your life and the real world sucks. He was 100% correct.
The other noteworthy thing about Spring 1984 commencement was that it was sunny and temperature was in the high 70s, the first time in many years that weather permitted the ceremony to be held in the stadium instead of Crisler Arena.
Peter King from Sports Illustrated. His speech was awesome I loved it. Speaking of Sports Illustrated, just got the swimsuit edition and all I have to say about Brooklyn Decker is DAMN!
Lee Bollinger. It was pretty weak both in selecting him (he started as president of the university in September) and his speech was mostly forgettable. Though he did have some statement about as we move forward, remember the humble means and places we lived in during our college years - something about we don't need big cars and houses and all that crap. Sure - and you bolted the first chance you got. Jerk.
That is all.
I graduated the year Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered the commencement address. I didn't go to the general commencement though, I went to the College of Engineering commencement at Crisler, but I can't remember who delivered the address at that. I'm pretty sure he was an astronaut.
Any other Class of '93 engineering grads out there who remember?
Undergrad: Lawrence Kasdan Director of the Big Chill. I was drunk the entire last week of school. Do not recall speech, but I have read the speech, emailed via friends after graduation, I thought it was pretty good in print.
Law School: Janet Reno. (This could compromise my identity) My parents could not attend. The Wings were playing the Blues in 2nd Round of Stanley Cup Playoffs on the way to their 1998 Cup, with a Russian forward leading the way. I wrote on the back of my card the name of the forward and a phonetic spelling. In front of my entire law school, about 3500 family and friends, I was announced and introduced to the Attorney General of the USA as "Sergei Fedorov" Reno stated, "Congratulations Sergei." I said simply "Da"
School of Music Class of '03. We had Jennifer Granholm at the Big House commencement, but we had a former UCLA basketball player under John Wooden speak at our music school ceremony. I can't remember what his first name was, but his son, Aaron Hill, was an oboe major in our class. The entire speech was filled with Wooden quotes and stories.
Simone De Quayar? or Boutros Boutros Galli? Something like that. A UN Sec General who spoke little or no english and had a translator. I remember it as a nice sunny day in the big house and hoping there was still beer in the keg back at the party house when it ended.
Slick Willy was the speaker when I was SUPPOSED to graduate. I didn't attend the commencement when I finally graduated so I really have no idea.
Jeff Daniels. Pretty sweet.
I graduated in 2005. We had that boring guy from Xerox. Honestly, one of the most uninspiring speeches ever.
But they did give an honorary degree to Bo, and he spoke a few words. Very memorable, especially given that he died the next year. I still remember him saying to our generation to "keep our heads up, and these cynical times will pass." It was also great to hear the crowd booing the Woody Hayes/OSU references in Bo's bio, but giving him a standing ovation when they read the part about all the success he had with us.
December '97. I remember enjoying his speech a lot. Then I was off to the Rose Bowl. Those were good times.