University to trim graduation speaker pool

Fifty candidates are in the pool of possible commencement speakers, and the list is still growing, a senior University official said.

Lorraine Voles, the vice president for external relations, said the committee will start narrowing down the list at its first meeting next week. Last year, it worked with 30 suggestions from students and faculty.

Voles declined to reveal specific names, but said the list includes world leaders, politicians, actors and actresses. The list includes every suggestion the committee has received thus far.

The committee – comprised of students, faculty and staff – welcomes suggestions from anyone in the University community, including students, staff, faculty and parents through word-of-mouth and Twitter.

The goal is “to get someone that reflects the requests that have been coming in from not only undergraduate students, but graduate students, sometimes parents,” Voles said.

By mid-October last year, the committee had already narrowed down the list to six. The committee selected New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg by the end of the month.

The committee will consider several factors when determining who will address graduates this spring.

“The biggest variable is obviously scheduling, and who would be available to come,” Voles said. The committee also considers a candidate’s connection to GW and whether he or she has received honorary degrees from the University.

Voles said, because of the caliber of speakers GW has had in the past, the commencement slot has become more renowned. It is the only commencement held on the National Mall and draws over 25,000 people every year.

Because it’s widely covered by the media, Voles said speakers recognize they can spread their message beyond just the GW community.

“I do think the setting is inspirational,” she said.

This article was updated Oct. 6 to reflect the following:
Due to an editing error, The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the commencement committee has a 60 candidate pool. There are currently 50 candidates being considered for the position.

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