Past speakers

Gettysburg College graduates are inspired to Do Great Work by an outstanding speaker at the Commencement Ceremony. Past Commencement speakers have included a Supreme Court Justice, Pulitzer Prize winner, Nobel Prize for Peace recipient, military leaders, members of state and national government, social justice and humanitarian leaders, and many other representatives from a vast array of backgrounds.

Year Recipient(s) Vocation
2023 Wendy R. Sherman U.S. Deputy Secretary of State
2022 Stephanie Murphy U.S. Congresswoman (Florida)
2021 Michael Brown Co-founder and senior advisor of City Year
2020 Lauren W. Bright ’90 Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
2019 Jerry Spinelli '63 Author
2018 Howard Fineman Journalist
2017 Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole Educator, museum professional, and humanitarian
2016 Cokie and Steve Roberts Journalists
2015 Charles Bolden Jr. Administrator, NASA
2014 Flora Darpino ’83 Lieutenant General, Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army
2013 David Gergen Political commentator, journalist and former presidential advisor
2012 Jacqueline Novogratz Founder and CEO of Acumen Fund
2011 Gwendolyn Dungy Executive director of NASPA
2010 Robert Egger President and founder of D.C. Central Kitchen
2009 Judy Woodruff and Al Hunt TV journalists
2008 Sandra Day O'Connor Former Supreme Court Justice
2007 Harold Prince American theatrical producer and director
2006 Bruce Gordon '68 Former president of NAACP
2005 Fred Fielding '61 White House counsel, served on 9/11 Commission
2004 David W. Hartman '72 First blind person to graduate from medical school
2003 Honorable Marjorie O. Rendell Judge, First Lady of Pennsylvania
2002 Senator George Mitchell Former Senator of Maine
2001 Mel Martinez Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
2000 John Hope Franklin Historian
1999 Mary Frances Berry Professor
1998 Richard D. Schultz Executive director of U.S. Olympic Committee
1997 Bill Cosby Comedian
1996 Jonathan Spence Historian
1995 Richard Riley U.S. Secretary of Education
1994 Andrew Rooney TV news correspondent
1993 Randall Robinson Executive Director of TransAfrica
1992 Noam Chomsky Political activist
1991 James McPherson Pulitzer Prize winner and historian
1990 Betty Williams Winner of Nobel Prize for Peace in 1977
1989 Charles E. Glassick Former president of Gettysburg College
1988 Joyce Carol Oates Author
1987 Garrison Keillor Humorist
1986 Joyce Brothers Psychologist
1985 John Houseman Actor
1984 Margaret Kuhn National Convener of the Gray Panthers
1983 Gov. William Scranton Former Governor of Pennsylvania
1982 Drew Lewis U.S. Secretary of Transportation
1981 Isaac Asimov Science fiction writer
1980 Russell W. Peterson CEO of National Audubon Society
1979 Joe Paterno Penn State University football coach
1978 Judge John Sirica United States District Court for District of Columbia
1977 Tom Pettit Broadcast journalist
1976 Shana Alexander Journalist
1975 James D. St.Clair Attorney
1974 Albert H. Quie Former U.S. Congressman
1973 Carol K. Bellamy ‘63 Former N.Y. Senator, director of Peace Corps, UNICEF
1972 Glenn Olds Former president of Kent State University
1971 William F. Buckley Author
1970 Hugh Scott Former U.S. Senator of PA
1969 James A. Colston Former president of Bronx Community College
1968 Charles Lucet Former French Ambassador to U.S.
1967 Harold Brown
1966 Sanford S. Atwood
1965 Harold Brayman
1964 A. G. D. Wiles Former president of Newberry College
1963 John S. Rice U.S. Ambassador to Netherlands
1959 Arthur S. Flemming Former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare