Huffpost College

Some Commencement Speakers Shine More Brightly Than Others

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Barack Obama will address the class of 2010 at the University of Michigan. Bill Clinton will do the same at Yale. And at Colby College in Maine, Judith A. McHale will speak to the sea of gowns and mortarboards.

Wait, who?

As colleges announce their picks for class day and graduation orators, a gap between the haves and the have-nots emerges. For every Michigan and Yale, there is a Jacksonville University (Stephen Lang, of Avatar fame) and a Regent University (H. Wayne Huizenga, Jr., a prominent Flordia businessman and yacht enthusiast).

Some schools reach far for speakers and other choose luminaries close to home. Tufts University announced today that German professor Sol Gittleman will address graduates. Last year, the school hosted Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

The Tufts Daily reports the school's reasoning for choosing Gittleman:

Addressing possible concerns that students may have about the speaker not being a celebrity, [Director of Public Relations Kim] Thurler stressed that what counted was the quality of the speech.

"I've been to commencements at Tufts and other institutions, and the value I find in the remarks doesn't necessarily correlate with whether the speaker is what one might consider a household name," she said.

But the notoriety of a graduation speaker can matter to students, sparking cheers and debate on some campuses. When Smith College announced last month that Rachel Maddow would speak to graduating seniors in May, students were ecstatic. And after the University of Michigan told students that Obama would be coming to graduation, a column in the Michigan Daily in opposition to the president's visit garnered more than one hundred comments.

Who is speaking at YOUR school? How do you feel about it? Tell us below!

Other announced speakers:

George Washington University: Michelle Obama
Vassar College: Lisa Kudrow
State University of New York-Oswego: Naomi Wolff, author of The End of America
Mills College: Nancy Pelosi
University of Texas-Austin: Marcia Gay Harden
Marquette University: Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach For America
University of Tennessee-Knoxville: Al Gore
John Carroll University: Tom Brokaw
Barnard College: Meryl Streep
Johns Hopkins University: Michael Bloomberg
School of Visual Arts: Tony Kushner, playwright
University of Indianapolis: Jane Pauley
Rochester Institute of Technology: Bob Schieffer
New York University: Alec Baldwin
Northwestern University: Christiane Amanpour
Western Connecticut State University: Wyclef Jean
Grinnell College: Jeffrey Sachs, Earth Institute director at Columbia University
MIT: Raymond S. Stata, engineer, entrepreneur and philanthropist
Lehigh University: Elie Wiesel
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Peter Orszag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Obama Administration

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