• MIT Commencement speakers, by the numbers.

    MIT Commencement speakers, by the numbers.

    Credit: Alan Scott

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  • MIT Commencement speakers, 1995 to 2014.

    MIT Commencement speakers, 1995 to 2014.

    Credit: Alan Scott

    Full Screen

A history of MIT Commencement speakers

MIT's Commencement history includes 109 guest speakers, such as President Bill Clinton, since 1880.

Press Contact

Maggy Bruzelius
Email: maggyb@mit.edu
Phone: 617-253-8260
MIT Alumni Association Director of Communications

MIT’s 148th Commencement takes place on Friday, June, 6. This year’s ceremony will feature guest speaker Ellen Kullman, CEO and chair of the board of DuPont.

Kullman is the Institute’s 109th Commencement speaker dating back to 1880, the earliest year that MIT Commencement records exist at MIT’s Institute Archives and Special Collections. The list of speakers includes President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan SM '72, 21 MIT alumni, and 11 MIT presidents.

Perhaps the most notable event in MIT’s Commencement history occurred when there was no speaker. In 1970, the graduating class requested that then-MIT President Howard W. Johnson refrain from speaking, allowing two minutes of silence for attendees to consider what can be done "to help resolve the conflicts which divide mankind in this country and around the world."

The first half of the 20th century often featured more than one Commencement per year. Separate ceremonies were held from graduate and undergraduate students in the 1940s, and traditional students and military students often held separate ceremonies in the 1920s and 1930s.

View the list (above) of Commencement speakers from 1995 to 2014, then visit Slice of MIT for the full list dating back to Unitarian clergyman George E. Ellis, who addressed MIT graduates in 1880.

Topics: Alumni/ae, Commencement, Special events and guest speakers

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