Commencement Speakers

The Office of the Dean of the College, in consultation with representatives of the senior class, select potential speakers a year in advance, rank them and then extend invitations in a timely manner.  When a decision is reached and a speaker secured, the President makes an announcement to the community in the spring.

2024 -Pico Iyer, bestselling author, journalist, and travel writer

Recent commencement speakers:

2023 - Dr. Aomawa Shields, founder of Rising Stargirls

2022 - Pulitzer Prize-winner Mitchell S. Jackson

2021 - Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield

2020 - Fawn Sharp, fifth term President of the Quinault Indian Nation

2019 - Maria Semple, American novelist & screenwriter - author of This One Is Mine, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, and Today Will Be Different

2018 - Maria Hinojosa, award-winning news anchor and reporter of the Peabody Award-winning show, Latino USA

2017 - Michele Norris, journalist, and host of NPR’s longest-running national program, All Things Considered.

2016 - Nicholas D. Kristof, Journalist, and 2-time Pulitzer Prize Winner

2015 - Ron Suskind, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist (view his speech)

- Marian Wright Edelman, Founder, and President,
Children’s Defense Fund
.  A copy of Dr. Edelman’s Commencement address is available here.

2013 - Retired Lt. General and Canadian Senator Romeo Dallaire

2012- Dr. Martin Seligman, noted psychologist

2011: Timoth Egan, New York Times correspondent and author.

2010: Mark Plotkin, Amazon Conversation Team

2009: Ray Suarez, author, journalist

2008: Greg Mortenson, author, Three Cups of Tea

2007: Vivian Gusin Paley, noted child psychologist, University of Chicago

2006: Charles Johnson, S. Wilson and Grace M. Pollock Professor for Excellence in English, University of Washington.

2005: Josef Joffe, Publisher of Die Zeit

2004: Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institutes of Health

2003: Ted Kulongoski, Governor, State of Oregon

2002: Ambassador Christopher Ross, Special Coordinator for Public Diplomacy and Deputy to the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State

2001: Lech Walesa, Nobel Peace Laureate and former President of Poland

2000: Dr. Ben O. Canada, Superintendent, Portland Public Schools

1999: Heidi Heitkamp, Attorney General, North Dakota,JD, Northwestern School of Law, Lewis & Clark College ’80

1998: Brian Lamb, Chair & Chief Executive Officer, Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network (C-SPAN)

1997: Jack Ward Thomas, Chief, U.S. Forest Service (retired)