Indiana University Commencement speakers, 1892-present

Listing of speakers in reverse chronological order

The modern day commencement address and speaker were introduced to Indiana University in 1892; previously commencement programs lasted several days and consisted of student orations and one “master oration” generally given by an alumnus of the university.* The individuals delivering the “master oration” may qualify as commencement speakers but they are not listed below. In addition to the student and alumni speakers, orators were brought in to address the various literary societies such as the Athenians, Philomatheans, and the Hesperians.

It was the President’s duty to deliver the Baccalaureate sermons; however, it is assumed that the President did also deliver a small speech after the diplomas were conferred upon the students. For example, the 1882 program does not name President Lemuel Moss as a speaker. However, an uncited newspaper article states, “After conferring their diplomas, President Moss gave the class a talk…” The newspaper then prints Moss’ speech in its entirety. The first official mention of the President addressing the class is detailed in the 1883 Commencement program.

By 1892 the student presentations had been whittled down to a few orations and poems delivered two days before the actual commencement ceremony took place. Rev. John H. Barrows of Chicago delivered the address that year, entitled “The Need and Comfort of Theism.”

December 1942 marked the first time a winter commencement took place, with 580 graduates. On December 7, 1941, the United States officially entered into WWII after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The Indiana Daily Student (IDS) of December 20, 1942 addressed the many changes that Indiana University underwent in 1941, including the inauguration of the “speed it up” program. The IDS reported: “New military units for university students, the establishment of a training school for both men and women in the Navy and a war-adjusting curriculum within a year made life on campus quite different for the students who had entered school when America was still saying ‘if,’ instead of ‘when we get into the war.’”

The university stopped conducting December commencement ceremonies after December 1944. Intermittent February commencement ceremonies took place until 1954, when Indiana University went back to a single commencement ceremony at the end of the academic year.

Due to an increasing number of college students, May 1980 was the first time the university conducted two spring commencements, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon on the same day. In 1984, commencement was separated into three ceremonies, spanning two days. In 1988, the university conducted the first outdoor commencement ceremony in 17 years, allowing for a single ceremony for all graduates that year.

In 1989, a resurging interest in winter commencement led to winter graduates being given a reception in their honor. A newspaper clipping from January 1989 reported: “About 1400 students graduating in December 1989 might have a commencement if a university committee discovers enough interest. The University hasn’t conducted winter commencements since World War II, when many soldiers couldn’t attend Spring ceremonies. Currently, December graduates may attend commencement in the Spring before or after their actual graduation date.” A November 1989 clipping stated: “December grads will have reception in their honor on December 9 in the Musical Arts Center. Kenneth Gros Louis, University vice president and Indiana University Bloomington chancellor, said about 20 percent of IU grads finish their coursework in December.” In 1994, the university replaced the December graduates’ reception/luncheon with ceremonies in the graduates’ individual schools. It was then noted that a mid-year commencement could be added in the future if the number of December graduates continued to increase. Finally, 1997 saw the first reinstatement of midyear graduation since 1944, and a winter commencement was held on December 22, 1997.

In 2010, for the first time, Indiana University implemented separate commencement ceremonies for undergraduates and graduate students. A November 2009 press release stated: “Moving to a separate ceremony for graduate students will allow more time to focus on their distinct achievements and observe the academic tradition of hooding Ph.D. and doctoral candidates. Likewise, the undergraduate ceremonies … will focus exclusively on the undergraduate experience and include new emphasis on undergraduate achievement, including the addition of undergraduate voices to the official program.”

*There were, however, two exceptions: In 1845 Judge David McDonald of Bloomington addressed the class and in 1848 J.C. Vaughn of Louisville addressed the assembled crowd.

Listing of speakers in reverse chronological order

2018

Spring:

Undergraduate ceremony:

Paul Tash -- IU alumnus, chairperson and chief executive officer of the Tampa Bay Times and Times Publishing Co.

Graduate ceremony: 

John Hennessy -- Executive chairman of Alphabet, Google's parent company, and president emeritus of Stanford University

2017

Spring:

Undergraduate ceremony:

Anne-Marie Slaughter -- President and CEO of New America

Graduate ceremony: 

Pauline Yu -- President of American Council of Learned Societies, scholar of Chinese and comparative literature

strong>Winter:

Fred Luddy -- IU alumnus, information technology product pioneer and ServiceNow Inc. founder and chief product officer

2016

Spring:

Undergraduate ceremony:

Jamie Hyneman -- IU alumnus, special effects expert and television host

Graduate ceremony: 

Michael Maurer -- IU alumnus, attorney, civic leader and philanthropist 

Winter:

Linda Greenhouse -- Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New York Times contributing op-ed writer

2015

Spring:

Undergraduate ceremony:

Sage Steele -- IU alumna and sports broadcaster

Graduate ceremony: 

C. David Allis -- IU alumnus and head of the Laboratory of Chromatin Biology and Epigenetics at The Rockefeller University

Winter:

Alice M. Rivlin -- Brookings Institution economist and a former Federal Reserve Board vice chair and director of the White House Office of Management and Budget

2014

Spring:

Undergraduate ceremony:

Michael D. Higgins -- IU alumnus and President of Ireland

Graduate ceremony: 

Paul O'Neill -- IU alumnus and former U.S. Treasury Secretary

Winter: Jane Chu -- IU alumna and Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts

2013

Spring:

Undergraduate ceremony:

Alicia DeCoudreaux -- President, Mills College

Graduate ceremony:

David Brooks -- New York Times Columnist

Winter:

Mary Sue Coleman -- President, University of Michigan

2012

Spring:

Undergraduate ceremony:

David L. Carden – United States' first resident ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Booker T Jones -- Grammy-winning artist and IU Jacobs School of Music alumnus

Graduate ceremony:

David L. Carden – United States' first resident ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Winter:

Mitch Daniels -- Governor of Indiana

2011

Spring:

Undergraduate ceremony:

Patricia R. Miller -- Co-founder of Vera Bradley Designs and former Indiana Secretary of Commerce

Graduate ceremony:

William G. Bowen – Former President of Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and of Princeton University

Winter:

Randall T. Shepard – Chief Justice, Indiana Supreme Court

2010

Spring:

Undergraduate ceremony:

Quincy Jones – 27-time Grammy winner, Emmy winner, Oscar nominee, Academy Award nominee, composer, musician, and producer

Graduate ceremony:

Elinor Ostrom -- 2009 recipient of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel (Nobel Prize in Economics) and IUB Distinguished Professor and Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science

Winter:

Vice Admiral Adam M. Robinson, Jr. – Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy and Chief of its  Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

2009

Spring: Michael Kirby -- Human-rights advocate and former Justice of the High Court of Australia

Winter: Robert M. Gates – IU alumnus and U.S. Secretary of Defense

2008

Spring: Will Shortz -- IU alumnus and crossword editor, The New York Times

Winter: Richard C. Atkinson – President emeritus of the University of California

2007

Spring: Tavis Smiley -- IU alumnus and radio and television personality

Winter: John T. Chambers – Chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems

2006

Spring: Michael E. Uslan -- Movie producer

Winter: Adam W. Herbert – President, Indiana University

2005

Spring: Adam W. Herbert -- President, Indiana University

Winter: Adam W. Herbert -- President, Indiana University

2004

Spring: Judy O'Bannon -- Former Indiana first lady

Winter: Adam W. Herbert – President, Indiana University

2003

Spring: Richard Lugar -- Indiana Senator

Winter: Adam W. Herbert -- President, Indiana University

2002

Spring: Richard A. Enberg -- CBS sports broadcaster

Winter: George E. Walker – Vice President for Research and Dean of the University Graduate School

2001

Spring: Kenneth R. R. Gros Louis -- Vice President for Academic Affairs, IUB Chancellor

Winter: Tony Mobley – Dean of the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation

2000

Spring: John Mellencamp -- Entertainer

Winter: Charles H. Webb, Jr. – IU professor emeritus of music, Chairman of the Board of Advisors of International Music Festivals, Inc.

1999

Spring: James F. Collins – United States Ambassador to Russia (Address entitled: “Russia and the American Role on the Eve of a New Century”)

Winter: William A. Cook – President of Cook Incorporated

1998

Spring: Sylvia McNair -- World-famous soprano

Winter: Herman C. Hudson – Director of Indiana University’s Minority Achievers Program, and Martha C. Kraft professor emeritus of Afro-American Studies.

1997

Spring: Dan Coats -- United States Senator

Winter: Claudia Mitchell-Kernan – Vice chancellor of the graduate division of the University of California, Los Angeles, presidential appointee to the governing board of the National Science Foundation

1996 Evan Bayh -- Governor of Indiana

1995 Birch E. Bayh, Jr. – Indiana Senator

1994 Hanna H. Gray – President emerita, University of Chicago

1993 Robert Shaw – Conductor and music director emeritus, Atlanta Symphony

1992 Helen Suzman – Member of Parliament, Republic of South Africa

1991 Lee H. Hamilton -- United States Congressman

1990 Jane Pauley -- Broadcast journalist

1989 Jill S. Ruckelshaus – Women’s and civil rights activist

1988 Herman B Wells – Indiana University chancellor

1987

May 9, morning: Ann G. DeVore -- State Auditor, Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

May 9, afternoon: H. Dean Evans – Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

May 10, morning: Ann G. DeVore – State Auditor, Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1986

May 10, morning & afternoon: Edwin J. Simcox -- Secretary of State, Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

May 11, afternoon: H. Dean Evans – Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’) 

1985 Robert D. Orr -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1984

May 5, morning: Edwin J. Simcox -- Secretary of State, Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

May 5, afternoon: John M. Mutz – Lieutenant Governor, Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

May 6, afternoon: Robert D. Orr – Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1983

Morning: Robert D. Orr -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

Afternoon: Richard M. Givan – Chief Justice of Indiana Supreme Court (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1982

Morning: Richard M. Givan – Chief Justice of Indiana Supreme Court (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

Afternoon: John M. Mutz -- Lieutenant Governor, Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1981 Morning & afternoon: Paul H. Buchanan, Jr. -- Chief Judge, Indiana Court of Appeals (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1980 Morning & afternoon: Otis R. Bowen, M.D. -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1979 Otis R. Bowen, M.D. -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1978 Otis R. Bowen, M.D. -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1977 Robert D. Orr -- Lieutenant Governor, State of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1976 Otis R. Bowen, M.D. -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1975 Robert D. Orr -- Lieutenant Governor, State of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1974 Otis R. Bowen, M.D. -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1973 Otis R. Bowen, M.D. -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1972 Norman F. Arterburn -- Chief Justice of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1971 John J. Loughlin -- Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1970 Richard E. Folz – Lieutenant Governor, Indiana – (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1969 Edgar D. Whitcomb -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1968 Robert L. Rock -- Lieutenant Governor, Indiana – (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1967 Robert L. Rock -- Lieutenant Governor, Indiana – (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1966 Robert L. Rock -- Lieutenant Governor, Indiana – (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1965 Robert L. Rock -- Lieutenant Governor, Indiana – (Gives ‘Remarks’)

1964 Harold E. Achor -- Chief Justice, Indiana Supreme Court – (Gives ‘Remarks’)

1963 Matthew E. Welsh -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1962 Matthew E. Welsh -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1961 Matthew E. Welsh -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1960 Harold W. Handley -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1959 Harold W. Handley -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1958 Harold W. Handley -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1957 Harold W. Handley -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1956 Frederick Landis -- Chief Justice, Indiana Supreme Court (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1955 George N. Craig -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1954

June: George N. Craig -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

February: Thomas E. Jones -- President, Earlham College

1953

June: George N. Craig -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

February: Maurice O. Ross -- President, Butler University

1952

June: Henry F. Schricker -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

February: Vincent Sheean -- Author-Correspondent

1951

June: John A. Watkins -- Lieutenant Governor, Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

February: Kenneth Lindsay -- former member of Parliament

1950

June: John A. Watkins -- Lieutenant Governor, Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

February: No outside speaker.

1949 Henry F. Schricker -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1948 Ralph F. Gates -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1947 Ralph F. Gates -- Governor of Indiana (Gives a ‘Greetings from the State’)

1946

June: Wiley Rutledge -- Justice United States Supreme Court (Address entitled: “Was Thomas Jefferson Wrong?”)

February: McIlyar H. Lichliter -- Grand Prior and active member at large of the Scottish Rite Supreme Council (Address entitled: “Sanity in a Muddled World”)

1945

April: Ralph Cooper Hutchinson -- President, Washington and Jefferson College

August: Francisco A. Delgado -- LL.B. ’07 Delegate of the Commonwealth of the Philippines the United Nations Conference

1944

April: James W. Clarke -- Professor of Homiletics, McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago (Address entitled: “The Great Adventure”)

December: Norman Vincent Peale -- Pastor, Marble-Collegiate Church of New York City (Address entitled: “How To Live in a Time Like This”)

1943

April: George W. Norris -- United States Senator (Address entitled: “A Lasting Peace”)

August: Archibald MacLeish – Librarian of Congress (Address entitled: “The Definition of Victory”)

December: Tingfu F. Tsiang -- Chief Political Secretary to President Chiang Kai-shek and Member of United Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (Address entitled: “Whither China?”)

1942

May: Joseph E. Davies -- former American Ambassador to Russia and Belgium

December: James S. Adams -- President, Standard Brands Incorporated (Address entitled: The Unchanging Law”)

1941 Mary Hamilton Swindler – Professor of Archaeology, Bryn Mawr College (Address entitled: “Education in a Changing World”)

1940 Glenn Frank – President emeritus, University of Chicago (Address entitled: “Who But the Young Can See”)

1939 William Allen White -- Publisher and editor, The Emporia (Kansas) Gazette

1938 Frank C. Mann -- Mayo Foundation, University of Minnesota (Address entitled: “Looking Backward”)

1937 Frank Aydelotte -- President, Swarthmore College (Address entitled: “Democracy and Excellence”)

1936 George Vincent -- Educator, New York City (Address entitled: "Faith in Democracy")

1935 John Huston Finley -- Associate Editor, New York Times

1934 Frank Albert Fetter -- Professor, Princeton University (Address entitled: “Drift or Mastery”)

1933 Elmer Burritt Bryan -- President, Ohio University (Address entitled: “The Democratization of Education”)

1932

John T. Thompson -- Brigadier General of the United States Army, inventor of the Thompson (“tommy”) submachine gun (Address entitled: “The Preservation of the Union”)

Ernest Hiram Lindley -- Chancellor, University of Kansas (Address entitled: “Revival of Personality”)

William Lowe Bryan, President, Indiana University (Address entitled: “Fight or Run Away”)

1931

Gordon J. Laing -- Professor of Latin, Dean of Humanities Division, and General Editor of University Press, University of Chicago (Address entitled: “Specialization and Its Place in Education”)

William Lowe Bryan -- President, Indiana University (Untitled address)

1930 William B. Bizzell -- President, University of Oklahoma (Address entitled: “Our Changing Intellectual Climate”)

1929 William Lowe Bryan -- President, Indiana University (Address entitled: “1830-1930-2030”)

1928

Walter Albert Jessup -- President, State University of Iowa

William Lowe Bryan -- President, Indiana University

1927 James Everett Sanders -- Secretary to the President of the United States (Address entitled: “The Call for Service”)

1926 Clarence Cook Little -- President, University of Michigan (Address entitled: “Humanizing Education”)

1925 Roscoe Pound -- Dean, Harvard Law School

1924 James A. Woodburn -- Professor, Indiana University (Address entitled: “Since the Beginning: A Retrospect”)

1923 Francis J. McConnell -- Bishop, Pittsburgh Area, Methodist Episcopal Church

1922

Lotus Delta Coffman -- President, University of Minnesota

Ernest Hiram Lindley -- Chancellor, University of Kansas

1921 William Oxley Thompson -- President, Ohio State University

1920

Centennial celebration with addresses from former IU presidents:

David Starr Jordan -- Chancellor emeritus, Leland Stanford Junior University

John Merle Coulter -- Head Professor of Botany, University of Chicago

Joseph Swain -- President, Swarthmore College

1919 George Lincoln Burr -- Professor of Medieval History, Cornell University

1918 Theodore Roosevelt -- former President of the United States of America (Address entitled: “Straightforward Americanism”)

1917 Lucius B. Swift – Lawyer and publicist (Address entitled: “America’s Debt to England”)

1916 Albert Shaw -- Editor, Review of Reviews

1915 William Lyon Phelps -- Lampson Professor of English, Yale University

1914 Le Baron R. Briggs -- Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University

1913 Henry Wade Rogers -- Dean, Yale University Law School

1912 George Edgar Vincent -- President, University of Minnesota

1911 Edmund Janes James -- President, University of Illinois

1910 Frederick Jackson Turner -- Professor of American History, University of Wisconsin (Address entitled: “Pioneer Ideals and the State University”)

1909 David Starr Jordan -- President, Leland Stanford University

1908 Albert B. Cummins -- Iowa governor

1907 Henry Watterson -- Editor, Louisville Courier-Journal

1906 Joseph Wingate Folk -- Governor of Missouri

1905 John Watson Foster -- Politician (Minister to Mexico, Russia and Spain; Secretary of State under President Benjamin Harrison)

1904

Charles R. Van Hise -- President, University of Wisconsin

Joseph Swain -- President, Swarthmore College

1903 W.S. Chaplin -- Chancellor, Washington University (Address entitled: “College Discipline”)

1902 George E. MacLean -- President, University of Iowa (Address entitled: “American Culture”)

1901 Frederick Treudley -- Superintendent, Ohio Public Schools (Address entitled: “What is of Most Worth”)

1900 William Oxley Thompson -- President, Ohio State University (Address entitled: “The State and Education”)

1899 John M. Coulter -- Professor of Botany, University of Chicago

1898

F. H. Snow -- Chancellor, University of Kansas

W.W. Parsons -- President, State Normal School (Address entitled: “Higher Indiana”)

1897 Cyrus Northrop -- President, University of Minnesota

1896

David Starr Jordan -- President, Leland Stanford Jr. University

A.S. Draper -- President, University of Illinois

1895 Henry Wade Rogers -- President, Northwestern University

1894 W.R. Harper –- President, Chicago University

1893 Albion W. Small -- Professor, Chicago University (Address entitled: “The Coming of Man”)

1892 Rev. John H. Barrows, of Chicago (Address entitled: “The Need and Comfort of Theism.”)

2017

Spring:

Undergraduate ceremony:

Anne-Marie Slaughter -- President and CEO of New America

Graduate ceremony: 

Pauline Yu -- President of American Council of Learned Societies, scholar of Chinese and comparative literature