Spring Commencement Speakers Announced

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Another year, another list of forgettable commencement speakers at Penn State.

The list of spring commencement speakers was released earlier today, and I would be surprised if anyone outside of the College of Communications had ever heard of their designated speaker.

I’m not so naive to think that these folks aren’t all accomplished professionals — no, it appears all of them have been quite successful in life after graduation. But commencement speakers are all about prestige and getting graduates (and their parents) excited to listen to a big name spew cliches at you for a half hour, and this monotonous list is a bit disappointing for a university of Penn State’s caliber.

Ohio State booked the President of the United States to speak at its commencement next month and this is what Penn State came up with? The College of Liberal Arts — one of the largest colleges at Penn State — doesn’t even have a commencement speaker. Penn State has a knack for landing itself on top 10 lists, but commencement speakers won’t be one of them.

But enough of my opining. Here’s the complete list of speakers (descriptions taken from Penn State News:

College of Agricultural Sciences

MeeCee Baker, managing partner and chief operating officer of Versant Strategies, a government affairs firm specializing in agribusiness and rural affairs.

College of Arts and Architecture

Steven Tepper, associate director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy and associate professor in the department of sociology at Vanderbilt University

Smeal College of Business

Lizabeth Zlatkus,  an insurance industry veteran with broad experience in P&L management, finance and risk, having spent 28-years at The Hartford Financial Services Group.

College of Communications

George Bodenheimer, as previously reported, a member of the Cable Hall of Fame and ESPN’s longest-tenured president.

Dickinson School of Law

Brooks Smith, a member of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

College of Earth and Mineral Science

John Leone, CEO, chairman and owner of Bonney Forge Corporation.

College of Education

Jhan Doughty Berry, the chief diversity officer at Educational Testing Service in Princeton, N.J.

College of Engineering

Naren K. Gursahaney, president and CEO of ADT Corporation, the largest security provider in the United States and Canada.

College of Health and Human Development and School of Nursing

Scott Kretchmar, professor of exercise and sport science, having arrived at Penn State in 1984 as the first chair of what was then the Department of Physical Education (now Kinesiology).

College of Information Sciences and Technology

Mica Endsley, president of SA Technologies, a cutting-edge cognitive engineering firm.

College of the Liberal Arts

none (They couldn’t even muster up a professor?)

Eberly College of Science

Shirley Malcolm, head of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The Graduate School

Ginger Lew, managing director of Enduring Hydro, LLC, where she provides regulatory, financial and operational expertise.

Are you happy with your college’s speaker? Let us know in the comments.

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About Author

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014, and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is a director of the Nittany Valley Society 501(c)(3) and is involved in student government.

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