Commencement Speakers

Commencement speakers from 1918. From 2001 on, each name links to the commencement address.

Year Speaker
2018 U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, U.S. Senator from Maine
2017 Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Former U.S. Vice President
2016 Arianna Huffington, Cofounder, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post
2015 Robert Redford, Academy Award-winning actor and director
2014 Deval Patrick, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Gregory White Smith ’73, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
Tony Blair, former prime minister of Great Britain
2011 Rajiv Shah, administrator of U.S. Agency for International Development
2010 Judith A. McHale, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs
2009 Greg Mortenson, bestselling author and cofounder, Central Asia Institute
2008 Robert E. Diamond Jr. ’73, president of Barclays
2007 Thomas Schelling, Nobel economist
2006 Anna Quindlen, novelist and essayist
2005 Dan Harris ’93, ABC News correspondent
2004 Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
2003 Helen Vendler, poetry critic
2002 Arthur Kopit, playwright
2001 Peter J. Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister, Harvard University
2000 Margaret H. Marshall, chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
1999 George J. Mitchell, former majority leader of the United States Senate
1998 Stephen Breyer, justice of the United States Supreme Court
1997 Eavan Boland, leading Irish poet
1996 Charles Osgood, anchor, CBS Sunday Morning
1995 Henry Louis Gates Jr., educator and author, Harvard University
1994 George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st president of the United States
1993 Robert J. Dole, senator from Kansas
1992 William H. Cosby Jr., entertainer and educator
1991 Thomas J. Watson Jr., former U.S. ambassador
1990 Maxine Hong Kingston, writer
1989 Leonard Boudin, esq., civil liberties attorney
1988 C. Everett Koop, surgeon general of the United States
1987 Michael Barnicle, columnist, Boston Globe
1986 Mortimer B. Zuckerman, president and chair, Atlantic Monthly Co.; editor-in-chief, U.S. News & World Report
1985 William F. Buckley Jr., editor-in-chief, National Review magazine
1984 B.F. Skinner, professor of psychology emeritus, Harvard University
1983 George J. Mitchell, senator from Maine
1982 Julius Seeyle Bixler, president emeritus, Colby College
1981 Garry Trudeau, cartoonist
1980 Ralph Nader, economist and consumer advocate
1979 Robert E.L. Strider II, president, Colby
Doris Kearns Goodwin, political scientist and author (Colby ’64)
1977 Thomas Winship, editor, Boston Globe
1976 Rosemary Park, former president of Barnard College and of Connecticut College
1975 Frank M. Coffin, judge
1974 William D. Hathaway, senator from Maine
1973 Philip C. Jessup, judge (retired), International Court of Law
1972 Nathan Glazer, professor of education and social structure, Harvard University
1971 Luther H. Foster, president, Tuskegee Institute
1970 George McGovern, senator from South Dakota
1969 Quentin N. Burdick, senator from North Dakota
1968 David McCord, poet and essayist
1967 Lord Caradon, United Kingdom representative to the United Nations
1966 Rene Jules Dubos, professor, Rockefeller University
1965 U Thant, secretary-general of the United Nations
1964 Adlai Stevenson, representative to the United Nations
1963 Julius Seelye Bixler, president emeritus, Colby College
1962 Howard Mumford Jones, professor of humanities, Harvard University
1961 William O. Douglas, justice of the United States Supreme Court
1960 James Bryant Conant, president emeritus, Harvard University
1959 Philip Hall Coombs, secretary, Fund for the Advancement of Education (Ford Foundation)
1958 Mary Ellen Chase, Maine author
1957 Erwin D. Canham, editor, Christian Science Monitor
1956 Robert Frost, American poet
1955 Oveta Culp Hobby, United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare
1954 Cyrus S. Ching, labor relations expert
1953 Vera Micheles Dean, editor, Foreign Policy Association
1952 Ralph J. Bunche, representative to the United Nations
1951 Vannevar Bush, president, Carnegie Institute
1950 William Ernest Hocking, professor emeritus, Harvard University
1949 Harry Emerson Fosdick, author, pastor emeritus, Riverside Church, New York City
1948 Joshua Loth Liebman (died prior to commencement) rabbi, Temple Israel
1947 John Jay McCloy, president, World Bank
1946 Joseph P. Kennedy, former ambassador to Great Britain
1945 Laura Tapia ’45, William Whittemore ’45, students
1944 Zechariah Chafee Jr., Langdell Professor of Law, Harvard University
1943 Robert E. Wilson, president, Pan-American Petroleum & Trans. Co.
1942 Leverett Saltonstall, governor of Massachusetts
1941 Clarence K. Streit, author
1940 George L. Kittredge, professor, Harvard University
1939 Franklyn B. Snyder, president, Northwestern University
1938 Hon. Josiah W. Bailey, senator from North Carolina
1937 Ira L. Letts, U.S. District Judge for District of Rhode Island
1936 Kirtley Mather, professor, Harvard University
1935 Clarence C. Little, head, Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial Lab.
1934 Frederick M. Padelford, dean of the graduate school, University of Washington
1933 Bainbridge Colby, United States Secretary of State
1932 John H. Finley, editor, New York Times
1931 Franklin Winslow Johnson, L.H.D. ’91, president of Colby
1930 Arthur Eugene Bestor, LL.D.
1929 Herbert Shaw Philbrick, Sc.D., ’97
1928 George Otis Smith, Ph.D. ’93
1927 Frederick Albert Pottle, Ph.D. ’17
1926 Donald C. Freeman, Abbot E. Smith, Agnes E. Osgood, students
1925 Nellie E. Pottle, Alfred K. Chapman, students
1924 Ralph D. McLeary, Marion D. Brown, Joseph C. Smith, students
1923 Jeremiah E. Burke, Litt. D., LL.D. ’90
1922 Nathaniel Butler Jr., LL.D. ’73, 12th president of Colby College
1921 Franklin W. Johnson, L.H.D. ’91
1919 Charles F. Warner, Sc.D., ’79
1918 J.M. Montgomery, president, Knox County Bar Association

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