Committee established to select commencement speaker

Committee established to select commencement speaker

President John Byrd has formed a new advisory committee on campus this year to help select the graduation commencement speaker.

The committee was created in order to give students and staff a say in the selection process.

“I think it’s important for students to have a say as to who will be speaking at their graduation,” said senior Eric Adams, student body president. “It’s ultimately the students’ ceremony and [they] should have some say as to who they want to see.”

In the past, the responsibility of choosing the speaker rested solely with the president. Byrd thought an advisory committee would be a good way to receive feedback about who the students and staff would like to host.

“After my first year I decided that it would be a good idea to have a broader base of involvement from people around campus in helping surface the names of prospective commencement speakers,” Byrd said.

Steve Griffith, vice president for academic affairs and academic dean, will be leading the group of seven other members. The committee will consist of three members of the senior class, Adams; Jenna Simpson, student body vice president; and Evan Schaefer, senior class president, as well as four members from various academic divisions including Kedron Bardwell, assistant professor of political science; Chris Goodale, senior advancement officer; Marilyn Mueller, professor of management; and Allison Wolf, assistant professor of philosophy.

“It’s great to have that many minds a part of any situation,” Schaefer said. “It’s nice to have someone from each discipline of the college so that we can try to accommodate the student body.”

The committee has not met at this point in time but will be meeting in the near future. In anticipation of attracting and attaining the best possible speaker, the college expects to extend an invitation to a potential lecturer by the end of the fall term.

“There will be a formal process to the selection,” Griffith said. “The president will still make the final selection, but he will have the input from this representative group.”

The committee hopes to select a speaker that students actually want to hear.

“I hope that by having this committee we will choose a speaker that students can relate to and that will give a message that will be a good end to our four years here,” Simpson said.

There are many different ideas as to who students would like to see, including Jon Stewart, host of “The Daily Show” and Marsha Ternus, newest member of the Iowa Supreme Court.

“I would like to have someone that the students don’t have to sit through, but someone the students want to hear,” Adams said.

Whoever the committee may recommend, the process should give students more input.

“It’s really the commencement speaker for the graduating class, and I think it’s important that we try to have someone that they can be excited about and be able to relate to,” Byrd said.