The 25th Annual Commencement Speakers Survey from Young America’s Foundation shows the leftist slant at America’s colleges pervades the final lessons given to graduating students as they turn their tassels and collect their diplomas. The small number of conservative speakers (just four this year) is again eclipsed by a number of prominent liberals (45) who were invited by the nation’s top colleges and universities to impart one last skewed lesson.

YAF’s Commencement Speakers Survey scrutinizes the commencement addresses given at the top 100 national universities as ranked by U.S. News and World Report. With 45 liberal speakers imparting progressive ideas and just 4 conservatives addressing graduates, the contrast in this year’s survey is stunning.

Vice President Mike Pence is the most notable and only national conservative figure speaking at any of America’s top colleges. Ambassador Ron Dermer, NBA commentator Ernie Johnson, and Tulsa Mayor G. T. Bynum are the other three conservatives delivering commencement addresses in 2017.

The Left’s childish reaction to Vice President Mike Pence’s commencement address at Notre Dame proves the pervasion of liberal intolerance. Even when conservatives are given the rare opportunity to address students, leftists won’t even consider an alternative viewpoint. In a tragic irony, the infantile leftists who walked out at Notre Dame proved the exact point he made about the “all-too-common practices” of the Left being “destructive of learning and the pursuit of knowledge …  wholly outside the American tradition.”

The class of 2017 will hear from Vice President Joe Biden and Senators Cory Booker, Bob Casey, Tammy Duckworth, and Elizabeth Warren who continually spout flawed, debunked, and failed ideas.

Other outspoken liberals including Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, Billie Jean King, Ken Burns, Michael Bloomberg, and Sheryl Sandberg will be speaking at some of America’s top-rated schools.

Leftist figures from Hollywood also made the rounds, including Michael J. Fox, S. Epatha Merkerson, Steve Levitan, Nick Offerman, Helen Mirren, Pharrell Williams, and Will Ferrell.

A number of news personalities are slated to speak at commencement exercises this spring, including Frank Bruni (New York Times), Jake Tapper (CNN), Brooke Baldwin (CNN), Christiane Amanpour (CNN), and Stephanie Ruhe (MSNBC). Notably missing from the list of commencement speakers at America’s Top 100 universities are any personalities from the Fox News or Fox Business channels.

The bias against conservatives becomes even more clear when 2017 is compared to the first year of President Obama’s tenure. Apart from Vice President Mike Pence, no members of President Trump’s administration are speaking at top 100 schools this spring. In 2009, 11 commencement addresses were delivered at top 100 schools who fell over themselves to host members of Obama’s campaign and White House teams. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Attorney General Eric Holder, campaign manager David Plouffe, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, CIA Director Leon Panetta, and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel joined President Obama and Vice President Biden in pushing their liberal agenda.

This slant against conservative commencement speakers is an unfortunate and alarming trend Young America’s Foundation has documented for the past 24 years.

“Conservative speakers have drawn record crowds on campuses around the country,” said Young America’s Foundation spokesman Spencer Brown. “Our campus lecture program draws standing room only audiences at many universities thought to be bastions of liberalism, and our nationwide online audiences rack up millions of views, demonstrating the demand for conservative ideas among today’s young people. Young America’s Foundation’s campus lecture program delivered conservative leaders and ideas to top 100 universities 61 times in the last academic year,” added Brown.

“YAF provides the intellectual diversity that far too many leftist administrators work to suppress today. America’s top colleges and universities are out of touch with America’s young people, and continue to rob students of the chance to think critically. Instead, these ‘leading’ institutions feed students a never-ending stream of one-sided lessons. That’s not education, it’s indoctrination.”

YAF determines speaker ideology (data here) by examining public records, public endorsements and other statements, and time in elected or appointed office. Speakers were included only if they were identified as a keynote speaker and addressing a comprehensive graduation ceremony (29 speakers had unclear ideological affiliations and 22 schools had various speakers, no primary speaker(s) , the university president as speaker, or no speakers announced yet). 

For more information or to cover this story, contact Spencer Brown by phone (800-872-1776) or email (sbrown@yaf.org).

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