Commencement speaker pool narrowed to six

This year’s Commencement Speaker Committee has already narrowed down the number of speaker candidates to six individuals.

But don’t get too excited yet, the University would not comment on who the six individuals are.

“We will have to wait and see,” committee chair and Vice President of External Relations Lorraine Voles said.

Last year, the senior class effectively knew who its Commencement keynote speaker would be in September, when first lady Michelle Obama announced her Community Service Challenge. This year’s senior class, however, will have to wait it out to see who will deliver the Commencement address May 15, 2011.

“Each Commencement is different as is each speaker,” Voles said. “The first lady was a great speaker, her message to our students was personal and inspirational, and we look forward to another great speaker for 2011.”

The committee has considered speaker suggestions for leaders in academia, government, the arts and business, Voles said.

Anyone from faculty and staff to students and parents were welcome to nominate speakers. Voles met with Student Association President Jason Lifton earlier this academic year to discuss possible speakers, she said. Lifton sent a message over Twitter about the meeting to invite recommendations from the GW community.

“We received more than 30 suggestions,” Voles said.

The committee chose the final potential speakers by checking the nominee’s availability, his or her connection to GW and by reviewing potential honorary degree recipients.

The committee is “looking for a speaker who embodies the vision and values of our founder and the University and who will be an inspiration to our students and the larger GW community,” Voles said.

GW will extend invitations to the final list through a letter from University President Steven Knapp, contact from Voles’ office or from the Student Association, Voles said.

Voles also declined to release the names of the other committee members, just saying it includes at least two student representatives, two faculty representatives, two administration representatives, and her as the chair.

In addition to securing a speaker for Commencement, the University has begun the process of securing the National Mall for the event.

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