Commencement Bias, 2005
By Young America's Foundation
Young Americans for Freedom | June 15, 2005


A survey released today by Young America’s Foundation indicates top students across the nation overwhelmingly heard from liberal guest speakers during commencement ceremonies, but more conservatives and moderate Republicans are speaking than in previous years. 

Using U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the nation’s top 100 colleges and top 100 universities, Young America’s Foundation found for the twelfth consecutive year that commencement speakers at these prestigious institutions are heavily weighted to the Left.

Commenting on the annual study, Young America’s Foundation President Ron Robinson explained, “For twelve years, we’ve shown that college administrators are using commencement ceremonies to send their students off with one more predictable leftist lecture. This year, the most prestigious schools exclude scholars like Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas for the likes of Al Gore, Kofi Annan, Hillary Clinton, and Howard Zinn. But some positive changes are being made.”

The long parade of liberal figures delivering commencement addresses at top schools include:

University administrators’ love of liberal media personalities continues. This year’s cast includes:

This year’s list features more conservatives than it has in the last eleven years. For example, Vice President Dick Cheney spoke at Auburn University, philanthropist Roberta Ahmanson spoke at Iowa State University, Pepperdine University Dean Ken Starr spoke at Hillsdale College, and businessman Bill Simon spoke at Pepperdine University. Yet there is a long way to go before commencements are balanced.                   

Notably, successful conservative media personalities such as Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, and Tony Snow are absent from the list of commencement speakers at top universities despite FOX News Channel’s growing ratings and the success of talk radio. Instead, speakers similar to Tim Russert, Tom Brokaw, and Andy Rooney appear on the list each year.

Prominent intellectual conservatives such as Thomas Sowell, Milton Friedman, and Dinesh D’Souza, are absent from the top school commencements while liberals such as Thomas Friedman, Howard Zinn, and controversy-ridden Kweise Mfume frequently speak at top schools’ commencements.  

In a time of war, there was only one military official, a liberal, who spoke: General Wesley Clark at Cornell University. Conservative military heroes such as General Tommy Franks, General Colin Powell, and General Norman Schwarzkopf were absent from the list.

Several other incidents occurred which supplement the liberal domination of commencement speakers.