YAF’s 24th Annual Commencement Speakers Survey Finds 40% More Liberal Speakers Than Conservatives At Top 100 Schools

Young America’s Foundation’s (YAF) 24th annual Commencement Speakers Survey reveals our nation’s top colleges and universities have selected a paltry number of conservatives to address graduation ceremonies this year while liberal speakers dominate in large numbers.

The survey found 45 liberal
 speakers and only 12 conservatives are scheduled to speak or have already spoken at the 2016 commencement ceremonies for the top 100 universities as designated by U.S. News & World Report. Of our country’s top ten schools, nine speakers are liberal. As usual, our nation’s brightest students will receive one final dose of liberalism from their progressive professors and administrators before heading out into the real world.


Outspoken leftists were popular choices at our nation’s top-ranking schools this year, with Secretary of State John Kerry, Spike Lee, Matt Damon, Senator Cory Booker, Attorney General Eric Holder, Seth Meyers, and many others slated to address graduates.

Of the 12 conservatives selected to speak, many are notably moderate, including Michael Bloomberg and Larry Ellison, and most are not prominent, national figures.

This bias toward liberal commencement speakers is an established trend: in 2015, the ratio was six-to-one, in 2014, the ratio was five-to-one; in 2013, four-to-one; in 2012, seven-to-one.

Ron Robinson, president of Young America’s Foundation, said, “Our nation’s colleges and universities are doing students a grave disservice by failing to provide balanced educational experiences. This is a clear illustration of that failure. Our country is brimming with articulate conservative leaders with important experiences to share, many of whom are far more qualified than Hollywood leftists like Matt Damon to offer their wisdom. This is exactly why Young America’s Foundation has the largest conservative campus speaker series in the country—at most schools, our speakers will likely be the only conservatives students hear from throughout their education.”

Wouldn’t it be more beneficial for students to hear from a Constitutional expert and United States senator such as Mike Lee than Spike Lee? Where is Clarence Thomas? Where is Thomas Sowell? What about Megyn Kelly?

Young America’s Foundation has conducted this same survey for 24 years, leading the Conservative Movement in monitoring commencement speaker imbalance.

YAF determines speaker ideology by surveying speakers’ public FEC records, searchable public statements and endorsements, and service in elected or appointed office. Speakers were included only if they were acting in the capacity of a keynote speaker and addressing a comprehensive graduation ceremony (25 speakers had unclear ideological affiliations and 24 schools had various speakers, no primary speaker(s), the university president as speaker, or no speakers announced yet). The full research is downloadable here: Commencement Speaker Survey ’16

Follow Emily on Twitter @emilyjashinsky.