The tradition of choosing a featured keynote speaker for the Commencement ceremony dates back to 1916, with the first Commencement speaker being Hamilton Holt, a renowned educator, editor, author, and politician, and the future president of Rollins College, With the exception of 1919-1921 when student orators spoke instead and 1970 when the student-led ceremony opted not to feature one, every commencement has included a keynote speech.
Tufts Commencement speakers have included prominent people from all walks of life. Actors, writers, politicians, philanthropists, activists, educators, military leaders, and members of the business community have all been represented. There have been many Tufts alumni among them, including Hank Azaria, Meredith Viera, Bette Bao Lord. and Pierre and Pam Omidyar. A list of speakers can be found here.
For whatever you want to do, do it now. For life is time, and time is all there is.– Gloria Steinem, 1987 Commencement speech
Let’s decide that today will be both a day of celebration and a day that we embrace a challenge. Let’s look back with pride at all that you have accomplished, and let’s also look forward with confidence, knowing that you will go forward to use all of your talents and abilities, all of your creativity and energy to find a way to be of service to others. If you do that, life will not be easy, but you will have chosen for yourself a very meaningful adventure.– Greitens, Eric. Tufts Commencement Speech, 2012