The Board of Trustees approved the president and CEO of the Dell Computer Corporation and the director of national intelligence to receive honorary degrees earlier this month, a step which could make them eligible to speak at Commencement in May.
Although the University would not confirm that Michael Dell or Vice Admiral John Michael McConnell are specifically being considered as Commencement speakers, a spokesperson said that the list of more than 30 public figures approved for honorary degrees by the Board of Trustees is a starting point for the search for a keynote speaker. The Board approved Dell and McConnell during its February meeting.
“We usually start with that list when approaching Commencement speakers,” said Tracy Schario, a University spokesperson.
University Marshall Jill Kasle recommended McConnell, who holds a master’s in public administration from GW, for the honorary degree, according to Board of Trustee records. Susan Philips, the dean of the School of Business, recommended Dell.
“Michael Dell has indicated a willingness to speak on the GW Campus,” Philips wrote in a nomination form.
It is University tradition, Schario said, for the Commencement speaker to also receive an honorary degree. But Schario said the University is not limited to that list, although everyone on the list is considered yearly.
Notables on the list approved for honorary degrees since 2004 include Mel Brooks, Oprah Winfrey, Bill and Melinda Gates, Alan Greenspan, Toni Morrison, Hank Aaron, Lance Armstrong and Wynton Marsalis.
In February 2007, the Board approved former University president Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, author E.L. Doctrow and tennis legend Billie Jean King. In May 2007, the Board approved neoconservative columnist Charles Krauthammer.