… alums Jay McInerney as commencement speaker, Martha Coakley as baccalaureate speaker.

A few thoughts … I have long advocated having, all things being equal, Ephs deliver these speeches.  They are far more likely to tailor their speeches to Williams in particular, and to have something of relevance and potential resonance to impart to undergrads, as opposed to the typically trite, platitudinous, recycled commencement address (I’ve sat through or read quite a few at various institutions, and it always amazes me how uniformly bad they are).  That being said, last year’s speaker, despite being an Eph, didn’t exactly light the science quad on fire, and I find McInerney to be an odd choice.  I am guessing he will, at the very least, be charming / funny / entertaining, but it seems like Williams could have found an alum who is a bit more, errr, current.  For example, if choosing a writer, why not Bethany McLean, author of The Smartest Guys in the Room (and no, I don’t just say that because she is gorgeous) … like McInerney, smart and well-spoken, but her areas of expertise would CERTAINLY be of a lot more interest / relevance to current undergrads.  As a general rule, if someone has recently appeared on both Colbert and The Daily Show, they are likely to resonate with college kids.  Coakley, on the other hand, I think is a brilliant choice.  Everyone knows who she is, and she almost certainly will have something compelling to say about both success and failure.  As for the honorary degrees, great call honoring local luminary Stephanie Wilson (the theme, if there is one this year, seems to be Berkshire County natives, as both Coakley and McInerney also hail from the region).

The undergrads seem less than excited by McInerney as well.  A few interesting tidbits from this thread.  First, the list of speakers at small liberal arts colleges (notable exception: Maddow) shows just how hard of a time Williams and its peers appear to have in drawing big-name speakers for commencements.  Second, I thought the comment about Coakley and the Guadino Option was brilliant … (speaking of which, I think the Gaudino Option itself is a great idea).

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