University stalls grad speaker announcement

GW officials said they have a speaker lined up for the Commencement ceremony on the Ellipse May 19 but will not reveal the person’s name in case the speaker cancels.

Director of Media Relations Gretchen King said the University would like to announce the speaker this week or next week.

“I don’t think we’re behind where we are normally,” said Director of University Special Events Jim Hess, who added the speaker is usually announced in late April or early May.

GW announced last year’s speakers, which included author Herman Wouk and singer Tony Bennett, by April 22 for the May 20 event.

Hess said officials are delaying the announcement to increase the “comfort level” of the University and the speaker.

“This has actually saved us in the past,” Hess said, mentioning a time “a few years ago” when the scheduled speaker had not been announced and withdrew by April 20.

King declined to comment on whether there would be one keynote speaker or a panel like last year’s ceremony, which included six honorary degree recipients.

University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg indicated that he had asked “the person” to be the Commencement speaker and the individual affirmed.

American and Georgetown Universities both announced their graduation speakers this week. Georgetown got Rep. Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.) and American will be addressed by actress Goldie Hawn. Past GW speakers include First Lady Hillary Clinton (1994), comedian Bill Cosby (1997) and Secretary of State Madeline Albright (2000).

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