2015 Commencement Speeches

The lists and commentary are coming in. CNN and The Hollywood Reporter published their top picks of 2015 commencement speeches, and The New York Times and The Washington Post published advice to future speakers. 

Perhaps the most talked about speech so far is from actor Robert De Niro at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts if not for the content than for his use of the "F-word." He warned graduates that their career choice may be a tough one: 

"You discovered a talent, developed an ambition and recognized your passion. When you feel that, you can't fight it - you just go with it. When it comes to the arts, passion should always trump common sense. You aren't just following dreams, you're reaching for your destiny. ... You're an artist - yeah, you're f-d. The good news is that's not a bad place to start."

Other notable moments include Ed Helms' criticism of Rolling Stone's retracted story about rape at the University of Virginia: " 

"It has been said that a rolling stone gathers no moss. I would add that sometimes a rolling stone also gathers no verifiable facts or even the tiniest morsels of journalistic integrity."  

For more, Graduation Wisdom has compiled a list of speakers through June and offers "sketchbooks" of previous speeches: infographics if you don't want to listen to them on YouTube.

Discussion Starters: 

  • What's your view of Robert De Niro's use of an obscenity during his speech: offensive, funny, or something else? 
  • How do you think Ed Helms handled the University of Virginia controversy? If you were part of the university's administration, would you worry about his portrayal? Do you think the university pre-screened his speech? Do universities typically review speeches before they're delivered?