College grads get celebrity speeches
Thursday 03 June 2010
With the school year drawing to a close, an increasing number of universities are inviting celebrities to attend graduation ceremonies to address the students with the traditional commencement speech before they receive their diploma.
Though the task traditionally went to alumni, often the speeches were uninspiring and not memorable. So, universities are increasingly requesting an actor, musician, business leader or politician provide the keynote address to the graduating class.
Pratt Institute, a New York art college, asked singer/songwriter Patti Smith to address the Class of 2010. Smith and film director Steven Soderbergh, who was present, are both college drop-outs, but received an Honorary Degree from Pratt as a Doctor of Fine Arts at the event on the Radio City Music Hall stage.
Words of wisdom for graduates were offered this year by Meryl Streep at Barnard College; Danny Glover ( Death at a Funeral) spoke at Utah State University, and Haitian-American musician Wyclef Jean addressed Western Connecticut State. Alec Baldwin ( It's Complicated, 30 Rock) provided the commencement speech for New York University (his alma mater) at Yankee Stadium.
Actress and filmmaker Isabella Rossellini (who starred in Blue Velvet) spoke at the Savannah College of Art and Design recently saying, "Art, inspiration, and the best ideas come from doing and not merely thinking or fearing. Don't discriminate. Just do."
Past commencement speeches by famous people include a diverse group from U2's Bono encouraging grads of the University of Pennsylvania in 2004 to make the world a better place to Apple's Steve Jobs at Stanford University.
President Barack Obama at Ivy League University Wesleyan in 2008 urged graduates to make a difference in their lives by making a difference in the lives of others.
Not all speakers are as inspiring - some rely on humor, such as comedian/actor Will Ferrell who addressed Harvard, where Bill Jobs, another college drop-out, spoke in 2007 and J.K. Rowling appeared in 2008.
Author John Grisham, at the University of North Carolina, said: "Of course, the future is yours. Who else would want it? Take it. You can have it. We've had our chance and made a royal mess of things. I'm sure you can do better. I expect you will."
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Al Pacino on suffering from depression: 'It can last and it's terrifying'
- 2 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 3 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Jessica Chastain demands Scarlett Johansson-fronted Marvel superhero movie
Downton Abbey series 5 start date revealed: ITV drama to return in late September
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
New Netflix releases: Films and TV shows coming in September 2014
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain