Howard Fineman Named 2018 Commencement Speaker
By Sarah Kirkpatrick, Staff Writer
Gettysburg College has announced that it will host Howard Fineman as the 2018 commencement speaker. Fineman, who serves as Global Editorial Director for the Huffington Post and has a long-standing relationship with the college, has published books about political history, has appeared on TV shows such as “Morning Joe,” and has interviewed every significant American presidential candidate since 1984. With his extensive background in politics, Fineman has already appeared on campus three times in the last ten years.
“Commencement speakers are often chosen from a list of honorary degree nominees solicited from the College community and approved by the Board of Trustees,” explained Gettysburg College President Janet Morgan Riggs. “These nominees are people whose contributions are outstanding in a variety of categories, including artists, scholars, humanitarians, and members of the corporate and business community or the public sector.”
While the typical consultation process includes conversations with senior class officers, this year’s process differed as Fineman had already been asked to speak in 2017, but, because he was unable to attend, offered to speak in 2018 instead.
Accordingly, the announcement of the speaker came far earlier than usual; last year, the college announced Johnetta Betsch Cole, retiring Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, as the commencement speaker in April.
Although Fineman has spoken on campus in the past, the college selected him as this year’s commencement speaker because of his strong ties to campus.
“He has been generous in sharing the knowledge and expertise he has gained from his long career with our students,” said Riggs, “Despite the fact that he has been on our campus over the years, most of the Class of 2018 has not had the opportunity to hear him speak.”
Commencement speakers at Gettysburg College are not compensated.
For his part, Fineman said his address will likely explore some of the broad themes discussed in his 2008 book The Thirteen American Arguments.
“[W]e move forward not only despite but because of our differences,” Fineman told The Gettysburgian. “Gettysburg is a potent symbol of both the challenge and the hope in another time of deep if obviously not as dramatically bloody division. Also I will tell some jokes and offer lame advice.”
Later, he contradicted the lame advice component on Twitter.
— Howard Fineman (@howardfineman) October 13, 2017
Managing News Editor Benjamin Pontz contributed to this report.