After royal rumor, students await Commencement speaker announcement


Kate Middleton will not be GW's 2012 University-wide Commencement speaker. Photo used under Creative Commons.

Unfortunately for lovers of the British royalty, it seems that Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton won’t be GW’s University-wide Commencement speaker this May.

Rumors that Middleton would address graduates on the National Mall percolated yesterday, but the University’s Vice President of External Relations Lorraine Voles said today the Middleton rumors are false.

#GWU the rumors about Kate Middleton– not true. Sorry we don’t have an announcement yet about commencement speaker,” Voles tweeted.

When asked, Voles said Middleton was not on the list of potential speakers.

“We do not have a confirmed speaker when we do it won’t be Kate Middleton, who I’m sure, would give a great speech,” Voles said.

And Voles would know, she is the head of the committee tasked with selecting and inviting GW’s speaker.

Now students (OK, mostly seniors) are asking, “Why hasn’t the University announced a speaker?”

But in keeping with tradition, GW normally announces their Commencement speaker in the latter half of the spring semester. True, GW announced that New York City Mayor and well-known philanthropist Michael Bloomberg would be the speaker in November of 2010 and the first lady Michelle Obama volunteer-for-speech announcement came in early September 2009, but for the last 10 years, most of the announcements were made in March or April.

The Hatchet first confirmed that then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel would address graduates at the 2009 ceremony on March 25, 2009. The University announced that Julian Bond, a civil rights pioneer and chairman of the NAACP, would be the 2008 speaker on March 27, 2008 and in a much-criticized decision, GW announced April 12, 2007 that then-University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, who was retiring, would be the keynote speaker at the 2007 ceremony.

GW’s announcement that Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush would keynote the 2006 University-wide Commencement came early in October 2005, following another relatively early announcement in January 2005 that longtime “60 Minutes” correspondent Andy Rooney would headline the 2005 event.

Students chomping at the bit for 2012’s speaker announcement, should only hope that GW announces the headliner before they did for the 2004 ceremony. The announcement that senior Adam Greenman and graduate student L. Trenton Marsh would address graduates and their friends and families in 2004 didn’t come until May 10, 2004 – only days before the actual event.

The announcement that then-Virginia Gov. Mark Warner – also an alumnus – would address 2003 graduates came in April 2003. This speaker was a get for GW and Trachtenberg had asked Warner to headline previously but scheduling conflict had kept Warner away from his alma mater. The University announced that Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons would be the 2002 University-wide Commencement speaker in late April 2002.

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