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Couric as Commencement Speaker

Katie Couric will deliver the 2007 commencement address.

Shiranee Tilakawardane will deliver the Baccalaureate address.

To me, the Baccalaureate speaker sounds a lot more interesting, plus she has a connection to Williams (her son is a senior according to the article). I think she would have been a bolder choice. I guarantee that she would have some incredible anecdotes to share.

Sounds like the college may be sticking with a global theme for commencement exercises. Last year it was dance, this year appears to be women’s rights / pioneering women. At least the topic this year has broad appeal rather than a niche audience.

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#1 Comment By Ronit On March 14, 2007 @ 1:40 pm


#2 Comment By Diana On March 14, 2007 @ 2:40 pm

By the way, Suranjit Tilakawardane is a CC co-president (sometimes listed as VP).

I think Katie Couric is a good choice. The vast majority of the audience knows who she is, and many of them watched her every morning on television. This gives her broad appeal.

Are you suggesting that merely because both speakers are female, suddenly there is a theme of “women’s rights” and “pioneering women”? Aren’t these just two interesting people who Williams could get, who happened to be female?

Word on the street is that Katie Couric is dating a man in Williamstown, so she’s around here a lot anyway. Apparently people have seen her around.

#3 Comment By Jeff Z. On March 14, 2007 @ 2:59 pm


I am speculating. It could just be two accomplished citizens who happen to be women. But, I remember that last year there was a unifying theme, and both Couric and Tilakawardane are notable (among other reasons) for being pioneering women, and I don’t see any other connection between them. I could be way off, but if last year is any precedent, it’s a fair guess. Man, I sound like Kane now. Perhaps I’ll just shut-up on that point now.

I think Couric is a fine choice (better than some other recent choices) and will probably be very eloquent given her occupation. I just think she is another example of a safe, generic choice who might deliver the same address at any number of schools. Unless Williams can get someone truly mind-blowing, like Middlebury this year (Bill Clinton), I think it would be more interesting to choose someone who has done something really amazing and unique without being recognized for it and/or who has a special connection to Williams. Or failing those two, someone who will be really funny — when was the last time that happened at Williams? In any of those scenarios, there is a better chance of getting a memorable speech specially tailored towards Williams. Getting a big-but-not enormous name speaker w/out any particular Williams connection, like a Couric or a Halberstam, doesn’t really inspire much excitement for me.

#4 Comment By frank uible On March 14, 2007 @ 3:15 pm

A big BOO from the male chauvinist pig contingent!

#5 Comment By Ronit On March 15, 2007 @ 12:06 am

The commencement speaker last year (the choreographer guy… I forget his name) was funny as hell. It was a truly enjoyable speech, what with the chants and dancing and all.

He may not have been a huge celebrity, but I doubt Couric will be as engaging as that.

#6 Comment By Anonymous On March 15, 2007 @ 3:20 am

Ronit, I would strongly disagree. Besides, Evan Miller’s speech was MUCH funnier.

#7 Comment By Ronit On March 15, 2007 @ 4:07 pm

True. Evan Miller was awesome. I hope our class speaker is nearly as good.

#8 Comment By Anonymous On March 16, 2007 @ 12:15 pm

I’m dissapointed that Williams is part of the “honorary degree” race. In my opinion, honorary degrees should go to prominent, interesting, or unusual alums or non-alums with a link to Williams or a local institution (e.g., Clark Art Institute). Selections should perhaps be politically neutral, or at least balanced, for example, Katie Couric and Michelle Malkin?

#9 Comment By Jeff Z. On March 16, 2007 @ 1:44 pm

I’m not sure I’d characterize someone who defends race-based internment policies as providing “balance” against Katie Couric, who is far from an unabashed lefty in any event. Not to worry: the odds of someone who defends such a policy being honored by Williams are (rightfully) zero. But your basic point about honorary degrees is one I more or less agree with. I think it would be cool if Williams went any one of several possible unique ways — folks with a local connection, or ordinary citizens who haven’t traditionally been awarded with these type of honors (like the dude who saved the guy from the subway tracks, only w/out the publicity). Williams’ Olmstead awards to high school teachers is a great example of a (now oft-imitated) creative initiative that sets Williams apart from the crowd. It would be cool if our honorary degrees could be similarly inventive.

#10 Comment By Ronit On March 16, 2007 @ 1:49 pm

Did someone just compare Katie Couric to Michelle Malkin? I mean, I don’t like her much, and I tell myself not to be surprised by any of the insanity spewed on Ephblog on a regular basis nowadays, but still…

At any rate, I’m not sure what political “balance” has to do with honorary degrees at all. It’s a load of PC crap to say that honoring Hillary Clinton (for instance) carries an obligation to also honor Rick Santorum.