Commencement Speaker Smackdown!

From John Legend to Al Gore, Terry Gross to Ed Herr, we rate local colleges' commencement picks.

The first round of announcements regarding May college commencement speakers has wound down, and if you think college admissions are competitive, you should see the commencement-speaker arms race. Is our school’s smarter than yours? More famous? Better looking? We took the trouble to arrange the first 20 announcees according to overall desirability as we see it from here.

2nd Tier:

  • Risa Vetri Ferman at Penn State Abington. Because we’re fans of Law & Order—and her brother Marc.
  • George Stephanopoulos at Franklin & Marshall. The Good Morning America host (for now) isn’t exactly boyish anymore (do you know what time he has to get up?!), but we bet he’s got some tales to tell.
  • Condoleezza Rice at Rutgers. We want the lowdown on this George Bush painting thing.
  • Lisa Nutter at Cabrini. Like having your mom up there. Not that that’s bad, Mom!

3rd Tier:

  • Corey Ciocchetti at Delaware Valley College. He’s a motivational speaker whose website is
  • Carol Eggert at West Chester. She’s something with the National Guard?
  • Marty Baron at Lehigh. He’s the editor of the Washington Post. Maybe he knows some famous journalists.
  • Ellen Schecter at Arcadia. Author of kids’ books. Also a memoir about having a fatal disease.
  • Susan Kiely at Gwynedd Mercy. On the minus side, she’s an ordained minister. On the minus-minus side, she’s married to the retired CEO of MillerCoors.

Bottom of the barrel:

  • Randal Pinkett at Cheyney. He won Season Four of Donald Trump’s The Apprentice. Worse, he’s entering politics.
  • James J. Maguire at St. Joe’s. He’s a big, big donor. We guess they have to let him speak.
  • Dominic Pileggi at Widener. Majority leader of the PA Senate. Snooze.
  • Tracy Davidson at Chestnut Hill. The NBC journalist is getting a graduate degree there. In “Holistic Spirituality.”
  • Terry Gross at Bryn Mawr. We’ve heard enough Terry Gross.
  • Al Gore at Princeton. We’ve heard enough of him, too.

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