Stephen Colbert, Arianna Huffington among this weekend’s commencement speakers

Stephen Colbert is scheduled to speak Saturday at the University of Virginia. Arianna Huffington will speak at Smith College Sunday.

They’re among the many journalists who’ve spoken or are scheduled to speak at commencement ceremonies this spring, as many did last year.

Below, a roundup of scheduled speeches as well as some of the ones already delivered. Got an addition? Email me: abeaujon@poynter.org.

Upcoming speeches

May 18

May 19

May 20

May 24

May 25

June 1

June 3

Recent speeches

Former Washington Post Ombudsman Andy Alexander, who’s now a visiting professional at E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, spoke at Ohio University May 3.

“I have interviewed world leaders, written stories that have put people in jail, and covered the news in places where history was unfolding before me,” he said. “Nothing is is more thrilling than using a contact to help a student get a job or being there when a student wins a scholarship and you realize that without it, that student might not be able to go to college.”

Soledad O’Brien spoke at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga. May 11.

O’Brien said her mother advised that “most people are idiots” and their views shouldn’t hold you back from doing what you feel is right.

“As you leave here, over the next few years, you’ll be told all the things you cannot do, cannot achieve and those things you absolutely, positively will fail in. Please do not listen … if you listen to those naysayers, then you’re the bigger idiot,” O’Brien said.

Tom Brokaw spoke at Loyola University New Orleans (and New York Times Managing Editor Dean Baquet got an honorary degree).

“If I were addressing a similar ceremony at Tulane, I’d have to speak much more slowly with shorter words,” said the veteran anchorman. “I actually thought about substituting LSU for Tulane, but I realized if I did, there could be a strong chance I’d be floating in a swamp somewhere in rural Louisiana.”

Paul Doiron, editor-in-chief of Down East magazine, spoke at the University of Maine at Augusta May 11.

I write about Maine game wardens and I’ll often run into a problem. Wait a second? I’ll think. How does a warden trap a bear? What does he use for bait? I know doughnuts and bacon grease and lobster shells work, but I want my game warden to be an expert woodsman. And I’ll stop writing because I am blocked. The only solution is to call a warden and he’ll tell me that the secret ingredient in good bear bait is propane. Actually it’s a chemical called ethyl mercaptan, which bears love for some reason. I bet you didn’t know that. And neither did I until I made that phone call.

Christine Romans of CNN spoke at Iowa State University May 11.

“When you enrolled here four years ago or five years ago, your timing was perfect,” Romans told the students. “Today you face better job prospects than any of the last four graduating classes.”

Howard Fineman of The Huffington Post spoke at Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville May 11.

Nate Silver spoke at Ripon College May 12.

Nate Silver gives keynote at Ripon College from Ripon College on Vimeo.

Nicholas Kristof spoke at Syracuse University May 12.

Kristof’s speech, in which he made reference to the recent Cleveland kidnapping/rape arrests and told a story that ended in a beheading, drew mixed reviews on social media sites.

Roland S. Martin spoke at Cedar Valley College May 16.

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  • sylvia kronstadt

    I considered writing a commencement ‘speech’ on my blog — a way of reaching out to this new generation of young people as they stride forth into the real world. I found myself, so to speak, speechless. What can we honestly say to them about their prospects for a productive, secure, comfortable, beautiful, honorable, healthy life in a country of which they can be proud — globally and domestically — and in which their rights and freedoms and equality of opportunity are protected? And in which their will is respected, (you know….the whole ‘democracy’ thing)??

    I have always thought that commencement speeches as a genre tended toward exaggeration and platitudes, if not outright lies. I gave my high-school valedictory address, and even way back then, I had to say some things that made me feel a little dirty in order to fulfill my duty and retain my priceless popularity.

    All I would say today is, “I’m sorry.”

  • http://www.JasonDeRusha.com/ Jason DeRusha

    Great article – but Stephen Colbert is certainly not among the many journalists. Calling Arianna Huffington a journalist is like calling Les Moonves a journalist. Come on.