| Graduation ceremonies mostly exist to stroke the egos of the faculty members and give the institution itself a pat on the back while simultaneously attempting to convert the new alumni into donors. But the most absurd aspect of the graduation ceremony is the commencement speech. This, we are told, is some sort of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear an advocate for mass murder like Condoleeza Rice, or a lawless oligarch like Christine Lagarde, lecture new graduates about “giving back” to the community, or being yourself, or following your dreams.

As with most everything that occurs as a university, the purpose of the commencement speech is not to provide a service to the students, but to make the institution’s faculty and staff feel important. If an institution can land a celebrity speaker (no matter how blood-soaked or morally bankrupt) to deliver the commencement speech, it will be great for the next fundraising campaign, and if the speaker says something really entertaining, insightful, or controversial, then it might even get the institution on the evening news. The commencement speech serves a public relations function, not an educational one.

So strong is the myth of higher education institutions as the mediators or public debate, however, that faculty and pundits and others in the thrall of the academy, become indignant whenever students express disliking for the commencement speakers which are, of course, invariably chosen and often paid tens of thousands of dollars with little to no input from the institution’s customers (i.e., the students.) Read Entire Article

By Ryan McMaken