Government officials, politicians address the Class of 2011

Originally posted on BeltWiki Blog from WhoRunsGov.com

Universities take great care to land big-name commencement speakers. A celebrity, CEO or high-ranking public official can mean press exposure for the school, and graduates are more likely to suck up the “celebration sickness” that tends to spread in mid-May for the opportunity to shake hands with someone notable.

Presidents, cabinet members and other politicians are in high demand around graduation time. Here are some of the words of advice already shared by officials with the Class of 2011:

The president traditionally addresses at least one of the service academies at commencement time. President Obama spoke at the Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday:

“As your Commander-in-Chief, I want you to know that your nation will do everything in our power to help you succeed… Ultimately, though, it won’t be the advanced technologies, the additional budget that determines your success…Your lives in service will be defined by something else, something inside of you — invisible to the eye but obvious for all to see. The arc of your careers, like the course of our country, will be shaped by the values that have kept us strong for more than 200 years.” Read the full text.

First Lady Michelle Obama is hitting the commencement circuit hard this year. At Spelman College in Atlanta, she said: “…don’t ever let anyone get into your head, especially yourself, because if it’s one thing I can promise you, it’s this: With a Spelman education, you all have everything you need, right here and right now, to be everything you’ve ever wanted to be.” Full text. Mrs. Obama also spoke at the University of Northern Iowa and will speak at a West Point banquet honoring cadets in the Class of 2011 on Friday.

Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah, is going exactly where you would expect a potential 2012 GOP candidate to go. He spoke at the University of South Carolina last week and will speak later this week at the Southern University of New Hampshire.

House Speaker John Boehner’s commencement address at Catholic University in Washington sparked protest from students and faculty members and, yes, a few tears from Boehner himself. He wasn’t crying about the protesters though. Watch here to see where he gets choked up.

White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, a Stanford alumna, put sports rivalry aside to speak at the UCLA School of Law commencement on May 13. Jarrett’s prepared remarks, provided by the White House: “I encourage each of you to consider public service at some point in your career. It can be very frustrating, even painful at times, but also extraordinarily rewarding. In fact, so far, my worst days in the public sector – and as you can imagine, there have been more than a few – have been more fulfilling than my best days in the private sector… Vision is especially important, in these volatile times. As our economy begins to recover, there are new reasons to be optimistic. But if we intend to win the future, this is no time for scaling back our ambition. That’s not what true leaders do. We need to out educate, out innovate, and out build our competitors in the global marketplace. President Obama put it simply: ‘We do big things.’ As individuals, and as a nation…”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was a hit at George Washington University’s graduation ceremony on the National Mall, according to the GWU student newspaper. Inside jokes work: “I can see why you love it here. However, I can also see from up here that some of you look a little tired this morning. Maybe you haven’t recovered yet from last night at McFadden’s? So I promise to be brief.” Full text

Here is the list as we know it of the other politicians and government officials speaking at commencement ceremonies. But we’re sure to be missing some, so please let me know in the comments section. I will update the post with links to the speakers’ profiles.

Hat-tips to Politico, National Journal, Huffington Post

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Stephanie Slade

Bob Schieffer spoke at American University’s School of Communications commencement two weeks ago as well 🙂