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Democrats outnumber Republicans as commencement speakers – again

ANALYSIS: Republican speakers absent at Ivy League universities, most Big Ten universities

Democrats will again outnumber Republicans as commencement speakers this spring, according to an analysis from The College Fix.

The Fix found similar results last year, after reviewing public statements, news articles, and political donations to determine party affiliation. The Fix reviewed the main graduation speakers at the Southeastern Conference, the Ivy League, and the Big Ten.

Four Republican speakers could be identified among the 36 colleges examined by The Fix. By contrast, The Fix identified 11 keynote speakers who are Democrats. Some universities have not announced their main speakers yet, do not have them, or select students. The analysis only looked at the university-wide ceremony or the undergraduate ceremonies, not those of individual colleges or graduate programs.

Auburn University will hear from two graduation speakers, Kirsty Coventry and Phillip McWane.

McWane, a business leader, has donated to Republican candidates in the past.

Three of the four Republican speakers come from the SEC, while one is at a Big Ten university.

Indiana University-Bloomington speaker Scott Dorsey is a venture capitalist who donated to Senator Todd Young’s campaign, according to Federal Election Commission data.

Mississippi State University students will hear from school President Mark Keenum (pictured, right), a Republican and appointee during President Donald Trump’s time in office.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon will be the keynote for the University of Arkansas. McMillon has been critical of President Donald Trump in the past; however, his donation history shows he often supported Republican candidates. Asked in August 2020 if he supported Trump, McMillon said, “I’m a retailer.”

New York Times columnist David Brooks will give the commencement speech at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Though once considered the New York Times’ conservative voice, he said he has not been a Republican since President Donald Trump’s rise to power in the GOP, if not earlier.

Democratic Mayor of St. Paul Melvin Carter III (pictured, left) will give the commencement speech at the University of Minnesota. Law & Order star Sam Waterston will give the commencement address at Princeton University. Waterston gave money to Barack Obama in 2012 and campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2020.

Other speakers with Democratic leanings include actress Kathryn Hahn at Northwestern University, who has publicly supported abortion and the LGBT agenda, and Dr. Vivek Murthy, who serves as President Joe Biden’s surgeon general.

He will give the Class Day address at Yale University. Murthy gave the commencement speech at the University of Missouri’s School of Medicine in 2023.

Architect and Democratic donor Jeanne Gang will address the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Democrat Governor Wes Moore will speak at the University of Maryland.

The College Fix contacted the universities that have not publicly listed if there would be a commencement speaker on Wednesday, April 17, and again on Monday, April 22.

Purdue University and Columbia University told The Fix by email that the president of each school would deliver the address.

Rutgers University will also have its president give its address. Brown University said that graduating students would speak, a tradition at the school.

The University of Missouri said that it does not have a central event to recognize graduating students.

Commencement speakers often have a left-leaning political bent. In 2022, The Washington Examiner found that only three out of the top one-hundred universities in the country hosted a “high-profile conservative speaker.”

Small colleges will host conservative speakers

Conservatives will be speaking at smaller colleges.

Riley Gaines, a critic of males competing in women’s sports, spoke at Adrian College in Michigan. Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, a conservative Catholic prelate, will speak at Thomas Aquinas College’s Massachusetts campus.

Conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito will speak at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

NFL Super Bowl champion kicker Harrison Butker, a devout Catholic, will speak at Benedictine College in Kansas.

Last year Butker’s speech at his alma mater, Georgia Tech, drew attention for its pro-family. pro-God message.

The Super Bowl winner said, “none of these accomplishments mean anything compared to the happiness I have found in my marriage and starting a family.”

“I am confident with God and with my wife by my side I can do more than I ever could have imagined alone.”

MORE: YAF once again finds liberal dominated graduation speakers

IMAGES: St.Paul.gov; Mississippi State University

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Brendan McDonald is a student at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire.