Colorado College announced Thursday that Oprah Winfrey will deliver the class of 2019's commencement speech. Winfrey, however, isn't the only well-known name to grace students with parting words of wisdom. 

A look at the list of Colorado College's past commencement speakers reveals a who's who of personalities from a diverse cross-section of professions. Generals, judges, politicians, journalists, religious leaders, actors, singers, Pulitzer Prize winners and Nobel Laureates have all visited the CC campus. 

What makes the speakers so unique is their diversity. David Packard, the Pueblo native who co-founded Hewlett-Packard and would go on to be the United States Deputy Secretary of Defense, gave the 1964 commencement speech. 

Oprah to deliver Colorado College's 2019 commencement speech

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor presented in 1982. Gen Irving Hale, who served in the Spanish-American War, was the speaker in 1900. 

Supreme Court Sandra Day OConnor

FILE - In this Sept. 17, 2014 file photo, retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor speaks during a lecture, in Concord, N.H. O'Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court, says she has the beginning stages of dementia and "probably Alzheimer's disease." O'Connor made the announcement in a letter Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. She said that her diagnosis was made "some time ago" and that as her condition has progressed she is "no longer able to participate in public life." (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

Nobel Laureate and former president of Costa Rica (1996) Oscar Arias Sanchez and two Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonists (Garry Trudeau, 1997; Mark Fiore, 1991) were also commencement speakers. 

Of course, there are also a few who may be headscratchers for some. Andrew Shue, most well-known for his role on "Melrose Place" and being the brother of Academy Award nominated actress Elisabeth Shue, spoke to graduates in 2003.

And two Denver University chancellors (Albert Jacobs and Chester Alter) gave commencement addresses in the 1950s. It's hard to imagine that happening today. 

Below is a full list of past CC commencement speakers, courtesy of Colorado College. 

1882 - 1899

May 31, 1882 first: President E.P. Tenney

May 30, 1883: President E.P. Tenney

May 28, 1884: President E.P. Tenney

1885 - 1890: No information. This was a low period in the history of Colorado College. There were few students and faculty, no President for several years until William Slocum came in 1888 and began to rebuild.

June 17, 1891: Mr. James H. Baker

1892: no information

June 14, 1893: Hon. Joel F. Vaile

June 13, 1894: Hon. L. Bradford Prince

June 12, 1895: Mr. Aaron Gove

June 17, 1896: Rev. James H. Ecob, D.D.

June 16, 1897: Hon. Charles S. Thomas

June 15, 1898: Hon. Tyson S. Dines

June 14, 1899: Rev. Clarence T. Brown

1900 - 1929

June 13, 1900: Gen. Irving Hale

June 12, 1901: Rev. Robert F. Coyle, D.D.

June 18, 1902: Rev. Cornelius H. Patton, D.D., St. Louis, "Culture and Power"

June 10, 1903: President Edward D. Eaton, LL.D., Beloit College

June 6, 1904: Hon. Charles J. Hughes, Jr.

June 7, 1905: Mr. F.J.V. Skiff

June 13, 1906: Henry F. May, Esq.

June 12, 1907: Hon. Herbert J. Hagerman

June 10, 1908: Mr. A.D. Parker

June 16, 1909: Rev. James Dr. Gregg

June 15, 1910: Mr. William Allen White

June 14, 1911: Rev. Joseph W. Cochran, D.D., "The Making of a Leader"

June 12, 1912: Mr. Henry McAllister, Jr., "The Responsibility of Educated Citizenship"

June 11, 1913: Dean LeBaron Russell Briggs, LL.D.

June 10, 1914: Professor Clifford Herschel Moore, Ph.D., "The College and Liberal Studies"

June 9, 1915: Mr. Carlton C. Wright, Colorado College '83, "The Test of Success"

June 14, 1916: Prof. Thomas Nixon Carver, LL.D., "Discipline and Democracy"

May 8, 1917 Special Commencement Exercises for Senior Men withdrawing for Military Service: President William Slocum

June 13, 1917: Pres. William Henry Crawford, LL.D.

May 29, 1918: Prof. William Henry Schofield, Ph. D., Harvard University, "The Student and the War"

June 25, 1919: Prof. George Lincoln Hendrickson, L.H.D., LL.D., Harvard University, "Nature and Human Nature"

June 16, 1920: Pres. George Norlin, Ph.D., University of Colorado, "The Prison of the Present"

June 15, 1921: Hon. Charles S. Thomas, L.L.B., "Quis custodiet"

June 14, 1922: President George Williston Nash, L.L. D.

June 13, 1923: Charles Hubbard Judd, Ph.D., LL.D., University of Chicago, Responsibilities of College Graduates in a Democracy"

June 11, 1924: Heber Reece Harper, S.T.B., D.D., Chancellor of the University of Denver, "The Perfect Equation"

June 10, 1925: Frederick William Shipley, Ph.D., Washington University, St. Louis

June 16, 1926: Ernest Hiram Lindley, PhD.,LL.D., Chancellor University of Kansas, "New Frontiers and New Frontiersmen"

June 15, 1927: Edgar Idell Lovett, Ph.D., LL.D., President of Rice Institute, "Scholarship and Service"

June 13, 1928: John Hanson Thomas Main, Ph.D., LL.D., President of Grinnell College, "The American Ideal"

June 12, 1929: President Donald J. Cowling, Ph.D., LL.D., President of Carleton College, "The Place of Liberal Arts in American Education"

1930 - 1959

June 11, 1930: President James Arnold Blaisdell, D.D., LL.D., President of Claremont College, "The College in the Changing World"

June 10, 1931: Aurelia Henry Reinhardt, Ph.D., LL.D., Litt.D., President Mills College, Oakland, California, "Learning and Laughter"

June 8, 1932: Professor Samuel l. Joshi, Dept. Comparative Religion & Indian Philosophy, Dartmouth College, "The American College in Relation to the Changing World Order"

June 14, 1933: President Irving Maurer, D.D., LL.D., President Beloit College, Beloit Wisconsin, "The Liberal Arts Education Today"

June 13, 1934: President James Fulton Zimmerman, Ph.D., President of University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M., "The New Real"

June 10, 1935: Statement by President Davies

June 8, 1936: Statement by President Davies

June 7, 1937: Statement by President Thurston J. Davies, LL.D.

June 13, 1938: Statement by President Thurston J. Davies, LL.D.

June 12, 1939: Statement by President Thurston J. Davies, LL.D.

June 10, 1940: Statement by President Thurston J. Davies, LL.D.

June 9, 1941: Statement by President Thurston J. Davies, LL.D.

June 1, 1942: Statement by President Thurston J. Davies, LL.D.

May 31, 1943: Statement by President Charlie Brown Hershey, Ed.D., LL.D.

February 24, 1944: President Charlie Brown Hershey, Ed.D., LL.D.

June 25, 1944: President Charlie Brown Hershey, Ed.D., LL.D.

October 24, 1944: Glen William Shaw '10, Director of Navy School of Oriental Languages University of Colorado, "America and the Orient"

February 25, 1945: Reuben Gilbert Gustavson, Ph.D., Sc.D., President of the University of Colorado, "Punching Holes in the Dark"

June 24, 1945: Dean Hazelton, "The Two Blessings"

October 23, 1945: Acting President Charlie Brown Hershey, Ed.D., LL.D.

June 23, 1946: Statement by President Thurston J. Davies, LL.D.

June 14, 1947: Statement by President Thurston J. Davies, LL.D.

June 5, 1948: John T. Haney, LL.B., "The Traffic Light"

June 4, 1949: Reginald Myers Atwater, M.D., M.P.H., D.P.H., "The Harvest of the Years"

June 3, 1950: William E. Stevenson, President of Oberlin College

June 2, 1951: The Reverend Canon Luther Deck Miller of Washington Cathedral

June 8, 1952: Chancellor Albert C. Jacobs, LL.D., University of Denver

June 7, 1953: Dr. Ernest Amos Johnson, Class of 1918, President of Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Illinois

June 6, 1954: Ward Darley, M.D., President of University of Colorado

June 12, 1955: Chancellor Chester M. Alter, University of Denver

June 10, 1956: The Very Reverend Paul C. Reinert, S.J., President of St. Louis University

June 10, 1957: James E. Webb, President, Frontiers of Science Foundation

June 2, 1958: Robert E. Wilson, Retired Chairman of the Board, Standard Oil Company in Indiana, "Individuals and Incentives"

June 1, 1959: Dr. Walter P. Paepcke, Chairman of the Board, Container Corporation of America, "After Graduation, What?"

1960 - 1989

June 6, 1960: John F. Merriam, President, Northern Natural Gas Company, "Your Educational and Cultural Peak – When?"

June 5, 1961: The Honorable Robert B. Meyner, Governor of New Jersey

June 4, 1962: President Robert James Bernard, Claremont University College, "The Dynamics of Change"

May 27, 1963: Hans Rosenhaupt, National Director, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, Princeton, New Jersey, "Rite of Passage, 1963"

June 1, 1964: David Packard, Chairman of the Board, Hewlett-Packard Company, Palo Alto, California, "Self-Enlightenment: The Key to Progress"

May 31, 1965: Robert Orville Anderson, Chairman of the Board, Aspen Institute of Humanistic Studies, "The Years Ahead"

May 30, 1966: William Illy Jovanovich, President, Harcourt, Brace and World, New York City, "Aspects of the Present"

May 29, 1967: Dr. Jacqueline Grennan, President Webster College, "The Power of Authority in an Open World"

May 27, 1968: Dr. William E. Stevenson, President of Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, "What Commitment?"

June 2, 1969: Dr. Richard D. Weigle, President of St. John's College, Annapolis and Santa Fe, "The Liberal Arts College: An Anachronism or Paradigm?"

June 1, 1970: Dr. Merrimon A. Cuniggim, President of the Danforth Foundation, "On the Contrary, We still have a Chance!"

June 2, 1971: Dr. Arland F. Christ-Janer, President, College Entrance Examination Board

June 31, 1972: Dr. Arval A. Morris, Professor, University of Washington School of Law, "Toward Enlightened Human Freedom"

May 30, 1973: Helen Stevenson Meyner, Class of 1950, "From the 1973 Window ... A Glance at the Past; A View of the Future"

June 4, 1974: Mr. Joseph Elliott Slater, President of the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, "Values, Diversity, and a Choice in a Free Society"

June 2, 1975: Dr. Ronald Berman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, "Intelligence and Usefulness"

May 31, 1976: Dr. Sidney Anders Rand, President of St, Olaf College, "The Not-So-Steady State"

May 30, 1977: Dr. Marshall A. Robinson, The Ford Foundation, Vice-President, Resource and Environmental Affairs, "The Ecology of Mistakes"

June 5, 1978: Dr. John R. Silber, President, Boston University, "The Gods of the Copybook Headings"

June 4, 1979: The Honorable Thomas L. McCall, Former Governor of Oregon, "Does Your Future Have a Future?"

June 2, 1980: Martin E. Marty, Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor, The University of Chicago, "Breathing Holes for the Human Spirit" -E.M. Forster

June 1, 1981: President Lloyd E. Worner, "Of Freedom and Authority - 1981"

May 31, 1982: Sandra Day O'Connor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, "One Step at a Time-And Keep Walking"

June 6, 1983: Hazel Estella Barnes, Professor of Classics & Integrated Studies, University of Colorado-Boulder, "Myths to Live By"

June 4, 1984: Frank Newman, Presidential Fellow, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, "Education in the Age of American Resurgence"

June 3, 1985: Mr. David McCullough, Author and Historian, "The Real World"

June 2, 1986: Senator Alan K. Simpson R-Wyoming

June 1, 1987: Lynne V. Cheney, Class 1963, Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities, "Mortal Stakes"

May 30, 1988: Berke Breathed, Syndicated Cartoonist, "Nothing Is Ever As It Seems"

May 15, 1989: Author John Nichols, "The Sky's The Limit"

1990 - 1999

May 14, 1990: Sydney Pollack, Film Producer and Director

May 13, 1991: The Honorable Richard B. Cheney, United States Secretary of Defense, "National Security in the Nineties"

May 18, 1992: President Gresham Riley, "The Most Unbelievable Thing"

May 24, 1993: Timothy E. Wirth, Counselor of the Department of the State, "The New World Challenge"

May 23, 1994: Glenna Maxey Goodacre '61, Artist and Sculptor, "Success is the Best Revenge"

May 22, 1995: Mike Farrell, Activist, Actor, "You and the World"

May 20, 1996: Oscar Arias Sanchez, former President of Costa Rica and Nobel Laureate, "In Search of New Leadership" 

May 19, 1997: Garry Trudeau, Pulitzer Prize Winning Syndicated Cartoonist, "The Impertinent Question"

May 18, 1998: Adam Werbach, former Sierra Club President, "Act Now, Apologize Later" 

May 17, 1999: Bill Richardson, United States Secretary of Energy 


May 22, 2000: United States Congresswoman Diana DeGette '79 

May 21, 2001: Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar, '77 

May 20, 2002: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, renowned author, researcher, and professor 

May 19, 2003: Andrew Shue, actor, activist, athlete, and entrepreneur

May 17, 2004: Eric Schlosser, author and journalist

May 23, 2005: Neal Baer, MD, executive producer "ER" and "Law & Order: SVU," '78 

May 22, 2006: Gretchen Cryer, author and actor

May 21, 2007: David Burnett '68, photojournalist

May 19, 2008: Billy Collins, poet 

May 18, 2009: Michael Bennet, senator


May 17, 2010: Wade Davis, anthropologist and ethnobotanist 

May 23, 2011: Mark Fiore ’91, Pulitzer Prize winning political cartoonist

May 21, 2012: Abigail Washburn '99, songwriter and musician

May 20, 2013: Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund 

May 19, 2014: Jane Lubchenco '69, head of NOAA from 2009-2013 

May 18, 2015: William “Bro” Adams '72, 10th Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities

May 16, 2016: Marcia McNutt '74, former editor-in-chief of Science and head of the USGS 

May 22, 2017: Hampton Sides P'16, Journalist and New York Times Bestselling Author 

May 21, 2018: Nancy Nagel Gibbs ’71, Tony Award-winning producer 

Terry is a journalist and social media manager for The Gazette. He's a graduate of the University of Denver, loves the Denver Broncos, and is a member of the Television Critics Association and Broadcast Television Journalists Association.

Load comments