Commencement Day Speakers

All professional designations are as of the date of the speaker's address.

2019 Commencement Speaker: Angela Merkel

YearSpeakerSpeaker's background
2020 Martin "Marty" Baron  Newspaper editor (article)
2019 Angela Merkel German Chancellor (videoarticle)
2018 John Lewis Congressman and Civil Rights leader (videoarticle)
2017 Mark Zuckerberg Founder and CEO of Facebook (video; article)
2016 Steven Spielberg Director, producer, and screenwriter (video; article)
2015 Deval Patrick
A.B. 78, J.D. 82
Former Governor of Massachusetts (video; article)
2014 Michael Bloomberg
M.B.A. 1966
Entrepreneur, philanthropist, former three-term mayor of New York City (video; audio)
2013 Oprah Winfrey Entrepreneur, talk show host (video; audio)
2012 Fareed Zakaria
Ph.D. 1993
Host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS and editor at large of TIME (video; text of speech; article)
2011 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
M.P.A. 1971
President of Liberia (video)
2010 David Souter
1961, LL.B. 1966
Former Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court
2009 Steven Chu United States Secretary of Energy
2008 J.K. Rowling Author, Harry Potter series (video)
2007 Bill Gates Microsoft co-founder (video)
2006 Jim Lehrer Author and journalist, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (video)
2005 John Lithgow A.B. 1967 Actor and author
2004 Kofi A. Annan Secretary-General of the United Nations
2003 Ernesto Zedillo Former President of Mexico
2002 Daniel Patrick Moynihan Harvard Professor and former U.S. State Senator from New York
2001 Robert Rubin A.B. 1960, LL.B. 1964 U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, 1995-1999
2000 Amartya Sen Harvard's Lamont University Professor Emeritus and Professor of Economics and Philosophy
1999 Alan Greenspan Chairman of the Federal Reserve
1998 Mary Robinson United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland
1997 Madeleine Albright U.S. Secretary of State
1996 Harold Varmus A.M. 1962 Director of the National Institutes of Health
1995 Vaclav Havel President, Czech Republic
1994 Al Gore A.B. 1969 Vice President of the United States
1993 Colin Powell Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
1992 Gro Harlem Brundtland Prime Minister of Norway
1991 Derek Bok LL.B. 1954 President, Harvard University
1990 Helmut Kohl Chancellor of West Germany
1989 Benazir Bhutto A.B. 1973 Prime Minister of Pakistan
1988 Oscar Arias President of Costa Rica
1987 Richard von Weizsäcker President, Federal Republic of Germany
1986 Lord Peter Alexander Rupert Carrington Secretary-General, NATO
1985 Paul A. Volcker A.M. 1951 Chairman, Board of Governors Federal Reserve Board
1984 Juan Carlos I King of Spain
1983 Carlos Fuentes Author and Diplomat
1982 John Huston Finley, Jr. Professor of Greek Literature Emeritus, Harvard University
1981 Thomas John Watson, Jr. Former President of IBM
1980 Cyrus Roberts Vance Secretary of State
1979 Helmut Schmidt Chancellor, Federal Republic of Germany
1978 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Nobel Prize-winning Russian novelist
1977 Barbara Jordan U.S. Representative
1976 Daniel Patrick Moynihan Harvard Professor and former U.S. Senator
1975 Archibald Cox A.B. 1934, LL.B. 1937 Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
1974 Ralph Ellison Novelist
1973 Rev. Theodore Hesburgh President, Notre Dame University
1972 Roy Harris Jenkins Former Deputy Leader, Labor Party, Great Britain
1971 Alan Paton South African novelist
1970 Antonio Carrillo Flores Secretary, Foreign Affairs, Mexico
1970 Louis E. Martin Editor and Vice President, Sengstacke Publications
1969 Jean Rey President Commission of European Communities
1969 Stewart L. Udall Former Secretary of the Interior
1968 Mohammad Pahlavi Shah of Iran
1967 Edwin O. Reischauer University Professor, Harvard University
1966 W. Averell Harriman U.S. Ambassador-at-Large
1965 Adlai E. Stevenson U.S. Representative to the U.N.
1964 Alberto Lleras Camargo Former President of Colombia
1963 U Thant Secretary-General, United Nations
1962 William M. Martin Chairman, Board of Governors, Federal Reserve Commission
1962 Lionel Trilling Professor of English, Columbia University Critic
1961 Alexander F. Douglas-Home Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Great Britain
1961 F. Cyril James Vice Chancellor, McGill University
1960 Robert G. Menzies Prime Minister, Australia
1960 Paul-Henri Spaak Secretary-General, NATO
1959 Pieter Geyl Professor, University of Utrecht
1959 C. Douglas Dillon A.B. 1937 Under-Secretary of State
1958 Neil McElroy A.B. 1925 Secretary of Defense
1958 Raymond Aron French Historian and Journalist
1957 Erwin Panofsky Art Historian
1957 Lady Barbara Jackson British Author
1956 Herbert Butterfield Professor, Cambridge University
1956 John F. Kennedy A.B. 1940 U.S. Senator
1955 Luis Munoz Marin Poet, journalist, politician, Puerto Rico
1955 Konrad Adenauer Chancellor, West Germany
1954 Henry Cabot Lodge A.B. 1924 Former Senator, Massachusetts
1954 Robert Schuman Former Prime Minister of France
1954 Dr. Grayson Kirk President, Columbia University
1953 John Phillips Marquand A.B. 1915 Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist
1953 Lester Bowles Pearson Canadian statesman, historian
1952 John Foster Dulles Politician, New York
1952 Joseph Sill Clark, Jr. A.B. 1923 Lawyer, politician
1951 Thornton Niven Wilder Playwright, novelist
1951 Warren Austin Senator from Vermont, 1st U.S. ambassador to U.N.
1951 Charles Wilson President of General Electric
1950 Dean G. Acheson LL.B. 1918 Statesman, lawyer
1950 Ralph Edward Flanders Senator from Vermont
1950 Carlos Pena Romulo Politician, Philippines
1949 Ralph Bunche A.M. 1928, Ph.D. 1934 Political scientist
1949 General Lucius Clay U.S. Army
1949 Sir Oliver Franks British Ambassador to the U.N.
1948 Trygve Lie First Secretary General, U.N.
1947 George Catlett Marshall Secretary of State
1946 Maurice Joseph Tobin Labor Secretary, Truman Administration
1945 Clarence Howe Canadian Minister of Munitions and Supply
1945 Sir Alexander Fleming Scientist
1945 Ernest Joseph King Fleet Admiral, U.S. Navy
1944 Walter Lippmann A.B. 1919 Journalist
1943 Joseph Clark Grew A.B. 1902 Former Ambassador to Japan
1943 Winston Churchill Prime Minister, Great Britain
1942 Henry L. Stimson LL.B. 1890 Secretary of War
1942 Dr. Frederick P. Keppel Former President of Carnegie Corporation
1942 Raymond Gram Swing Journalist
1942 William Franklin Knox Secretary of the Navy
1941 Edward Wood Viscount Halifax, British Ambassador to the U.S.
1941 Clarence A. Dykstra Chairman, National Defense Board
1941 Vannevar Bush National Defense Research Committee
1940 Robert Sproul President, University of California
1940 Carl Sandburg Poet
1940 Cordell Hull Secretary of State
1938 John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweesmuir Head of State, Scottish novelist, historian
1934 Harold W. Dodds President, Princeton University
1934 Charles F. Martin President, McGill University
1933 Sir Ronald Lindsay British civil servant, diplomat
1931 Sir James Salter Author, political scientist
1929 Ernest Barker Political scientist
1927 Josiah Stamp 1st Baron Stamp Public servant, Great Britain
1926 Arthur William Currie General, Canadian Corps
1924 Owen D. Young Dawes Committee
1923 William Lyon King Politician, Canada
1918 Rufus Daniel Isaacs Earl of Reading
1917 Cecil Arthur Spring-Rice British Ambassador to the United States
1914 David Franklin Houston A.M. 1892 U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
1914 Sir Charles Fitzpatrick Chief Justice of Canada
1910 George Walter Prothero British writer, historian
1909 Sir William Napier Shaw British meteorologist
1907 James Bryce British historian, statesman, diplomat
1904 Henry Cabot Lodge A.B. 1872 U.S. Senator, Massachusetts
1904 Baron Kentaro Kaneko A.B. 1878 Japanese envoy to U.S.
1904 William Osler Medical Doctor, Baronet
1900 Julian Pauncefote Baron
1898 John Campbell Gordon Marquis of Aberdeen and Temair
1890 Leslie Stephen English critic, man of letters
1886 Lyon Playfair Baron
1884 Richard Jebb British classical scholar, politician
1878 Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood Marquis of Dufferin and Ava
1875 Thomas Carlyle Scottish essayist, historian
1871 George Robinson Marquis of Ripon
1862 John Stuart Mill British philosopher, economist
1860 Richard Lyons Viscount
1858 Francis Napier Baron Napier and Ettrica
1853 James Bruce Earl of Elgin and Kincardine
1846 Thomas Grenville British politician, bibliophile
1844 Charles Lyell British lawyer, geologist
1831 Richard Whately British rhetorician, logician, economist and theologian