By Patricia Brennan
As graduation draws near, preparations are underway for the commencement ceremony, including the selection process of a commencement speaker. Last year’s speaker was George Weigel, renowned author, Catholic speaker and political activist.
In the past, some students have expressed dissatisfaction or confusion with the choice of commencement speaker. However, according to the administration, the selection process for the commencement speaker involves the students’ input just as much as that of the faculty and administration.
“The university president accepts recommendations for commencement speakers from a number of constituent groups — faculty, staff, students, alums, trustees and donors,” Dr. John Plotts, vice president of enrollment said. “He evaluates the candidates and extends an invitation to the speaker on behalf of the university and the Board of Trustees.”
Yet apparently not all students were aware of the selection process. Senior class representative Dominic Dougherty said that he believes a lack of communication between the students and the administration is to blame.
“It will be a little disappointing for us if we don’t get to have a say in the commencement speaker,” Dougherty said. “I think to a large extent it would be our fault for not submitting nominations earlier, but, on the other hand, we had no communication from the administration regarding a commencement speaker, and weren’t aware of any deadlines they wanted a nomination by.”
The Senior Committee did submit a list of names for president Thomas Keefe to consider for commencement speaker. The list includes people such as Alasdair MacIntyre, Helen Alvaré, Bishop James Conley, Arthur Brooks and Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke.
“We really wanted to give a list of people who exemplified both the strongly Catholic identity of the university and the really intense intellectual life of the campus,” senior Alex Taylor said. “There’s a way in which our university really is for the whole country. There’s a way in which we’re really one of the brightest stars of the Catholic liberal arts world.”
MacIntyre is considered one of the greatest Catholic philosophers today, renowned for both his speeches and his personal witness of faith. He gave a lecture of Thomas Aquinas at UD in 1991.
Alvaré is a professor of law at George Mason University. She serves as a consultant for the Pontifical Council of the Laity, and an advisor for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank in Washington ,D.C. Brooks is a self-made conservative, despite his liberal upbringing, and a scholar who focuses on policy instead of politics.
“He is the most compelling speaker I have ever heard,” Dougherty, who has heard him speak twice in person, said.
Bishop Conley is the bishop of the Diocese of Lincoln in Neb. He served as the chaplain of the University of Dallas Rome campus from 1997 to 2004.
Cardinal Burke is the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and is the former archbishop of the St. Louis Diocese.
It is currently unknown if the decision of a commencement speaker has been finalized. However, Plotts stated that Keefe has contacted someone.