Only 1 of the Top 100 Universities Feature Conservative Commencement Speaker for Class of 2020

June 23, 2020 Updated: June 25, 2020

Commencement speeches this spring overwhelmingly lacked conservative voices, as only one of the United States’ top 100 universities invited a Republican guest speaker to address the class of 2020 at their graduation ceremonies, according to a recent report by the Young America’s Foundation (YAF).

All of the top 100 universities in America—as ranked by U.S. News & World Report—chose to cancel traditional, in-person commencement exercises in the wake of the pandemic, the YAF report noted. The schools that managed to invite guest speakers to deliver their commencement addresses remotely, however, almost exclusively favored those from the political left.

The elected leaders featured in this year’s mostly virtual commencement speeches were predominantly Democrats, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), at the University of Maryland; Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, at Northwestern University; New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, at the New Jersey Institute of Technology; Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, at the Colorado School of Mines, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is the sole Republican government official on the list (pdf) of commencement speakers compiled by the YAF. DeWine gave a virtual speech on May 16 for students at Miami University, the second-oldest university in Ohio.

Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump, senior White House adviser and daughter of President Donald Trump, initially was invited to give a speech at Wichita State University Tech in Kansas. Earlier this month, the school canceled its plans to feature her, after students and professors protested the event.

The absence of members of the Trump administration draws a strong contrast to the “dozens of commencement addresses delivered by members of the Obama administration, including 15 in 2015 and 11 in 2016,” the YAF noted.

Other commencement speakers for the class of 2020 are also notable for their progressive views, such as Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron at Harvard University, Apple CEO Tim Cook at Ohio State University, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian at Johns Hopkins University, and actor George Takei at the University of California–Los Angeles.

“Just as universities roll out the red carpet for leftist guest lecturers, so they invite and welcome leftist figures from media, pop culture, and government to deliver a final lesson to graduates at commencement—even when commencement is virtual,” said YAF spokesman Spencer Brown. “The left maintains their educational echo chamber at the expense of their students’ intellectual strength and the once-noble pursuit of higher learning.”

The imbalance between progressive and conservative voices can be also seen in YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020” virtual commencement. The virtual event was dominated by left-leaning speakers such as former President Barack Obama, his wife Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, and Taylor Swift.