Standout speakers

It’s about time for Penn’s Commencement planners to pick a speaker for the annual May ceremony. We thought we’d help the process along by asking this year’s graduates who they think would make a great Commencement speaker. While there’s no clear consensus choice, it appears that many students admire political leaders. And there are a few key qualities the students are looking for — chief among them the ability to deliver an entertaining speech.

Julian Millikan, Wharton/Engineering ’00
“A well-known personality who can deliver a message appropriate for the occasion and do so in an entertaining fashion. Bob Costas, perhaps?”

Frank Swietnicki, College ’00
“Steve Jobs would be ideal for a speaker.”

Vicky Sin, College ’00
“I hope the speaker will be one noted for his/her compassion. College life should have taught us to be compassionate people. If not, well, we need someone to remind us.”

Mark Sullivan, Engineering ’00
“Last year they had Robert Rubin - Secretary of the Interior, I think. Not only did he talk in a monotone, but he was not entertaining or humorous at all. My choices would include Rosie O’Donnell, Rush Limbaugh, Katie Couric, Dennis Miller, and Ed Rendell.”

Clarissa Fesler, College ’00
“I think that Jeff Bezos [ CEO] would be a good commencement speaker.”

Leigh Gardner, College ’00, GSE ’01
“Ideally, I would like to see Ed Rendell. He’s a Penn alum and is amazingly successful. He turned Philadelphia completely around over the years. That, and he makes trips up to Brown to see the men’s b-ball games.”

Brett Weinheimer, Wharton ’00
“Bob Dole.”

Matt Robusto, Engineering ’00
“Adam Sandler.”

Sara Kutney, College ’00
“Bill Bradley.”

Horace Leung, Wharton ’00
“I think the Dalai Lama was at Emory a few years back. ... He’d be cool to have here.”

Michelle Ofner, College ’00
“Hillary Clinton, especially with the upcoming Senate campaign and all.”

John Yu, Engineering ’00
“A previous president of Penn. He could talk about the changes at the school.”

William Wang, College ’00
“Pretty much any celebrity.”

Stacy Cook, College ’00
“Madeline Albright.”

Cecilia Chan, Wharton ’00
“Colin Powell — he’s a strong leader.”

— Katie Alex



Originally published on March 2, 2000