WESTMINSTER, COLORADO – Students at Colorado Christian University spotted an endangered species in the world of higher education: a conservative graduation speaker.
Bestselling author Eric Metaxas delivered Saturday’s commencement address here at the 1stBank Center, making him one of the few political conservatives invited this year to speak to college graduates. According to a report released this week by Young America’s Foundation, liberal speakers outnumbered conservatives 12 to 1.
The politicization of graduation speakers may be a symptom of rot in higher education. In his speech, Mr. Metaxas said many universities, including his alma mater, have little interest in providing students with a true education.
“I have very, very little respect for Yale University and those universities that pretend that you can divorce education from truth, from God, from the ultimate questions,” Mr. Metaxas said. “If you do not answer the question, or at least ask the question, ‘Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? What is the meaning of life?’ Those are the only questions every human being needs to know and wants to know and longs to know, and if an education cannot be part of communicating at least thoughtful thinking on that, if not actual answers, that is no education.”
Young America’s Foundation looked at the top 100 national universities, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report, and found only three schools that invited a conservative to deliver this year’s main commencement address.
Colorado School of Mines invited alumnus Harold Korell, the former CEO of Southwestern Energy Co., Lehigh University invited alumna Cathy Engelbert, the CEO of Deloitte, and Yeshiva University invited Ambassador Danny Danon, Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations.
The report identified 38 schools that chose graduation speakers who hold liberal views. The list includes politicians, business executives, journalists, comedians and social justice activists.
Elite universities were especially likely to shun conservative speakers from their commencement ceremonies.
Among the top 45 schools in the nation, none invited a conservative graduation speaker and 26 invited a liberal one.
Rep. John Lewis, Georgia Democrat, is headlining the commencement ceremonies at four institutions: Boston University, California Institute of Technology, University of California San Diego and Harvard University.
Other Democrats delivering commencement addresses include Oregon Governor Kate Brown, who was invited to the University of Colorado Boulder; Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who was invited to the University of California Berkeley; Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who was invited to Virginia Tech University; and Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, who was invited to the College of William and Mary.
Former Vice President Al Gore will deliver the main commencement address this weekend at the University of Maryland College Park.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday to speak to graduates of New York University. He was introduced as “one of the most enlightened and progressive political leaders of our time” and an “avowed feminist” who “raised taxes on the wealthiest one percent of Canadians,” which drew applause from students.
In his remarks, Mr. Trudeau encouraged students to explore other cultures and push their boundaries.
“There are serious and important problems that we are grappling with and will continue to grapple with,” he said. “But we are not going to arrive at mutual respect, which is where we solve common problems, if we cocoon ourselves in an ideological, social or intellectual bubble.”
Other notable graduation speakers included Apple CEO Tim Cook, who delivered the commencement address Sunday at Duke University, MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell, who delivered the commencement address Monday at the University of Pennsylvania, and actress Mindy Kaling, who will speak to graduates of Dartmouth University next month.
Mr. Cook implored students to disrupt the status quo, citing students in Parkland, Florida, who launched national protests against gun violence, the “fearless” women who sparked the #metoo movement and people who “fight for the rights of immigrants.”
Spencer Brown, spokesman for Young America’s Foundation, said universities are giving students a liberal send-off before they face reality.
“America’s top institutions continue to be abandoned as sites of higher education and turned into indoctrination centers,” Mr. Brown said in a statement. “As if four years of being fed leftist pablum wasn’t enough, too many schools shove their students out the door with one last liberal lesson.”
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