College Politics

Barack Obama at University of Michigan Commencement

It was recently announced that President Barack Obama will speak at the University of MichiganĀ  commencement this Spring in Ann Arbor. As a Michigan State alum, I hope Obama’s theme is environmentalism and that he finishes his graduation speech with the words: “In conclusion, GO GREEN!!!”

When I graduated MSU in 1998, the commencement speaker was former NBA basketball player Greg Kelser (in photo), who now is a TV commentator alongside George Blaha for the Detroit Pistons. As a senior at Michigan State, Kelser along with Ervin “Magic” Johnson led the Spartans to the 1979 NCAA tournament championship, the first in the school’s history. The year after I graduated, Elie Wiesel addressed Michigan State’s graduating class.

Two years earlier, in 1996, I heard a wonderful commencement address at my wife’s graduation from MSU when White House press correspondent Helen Thomas spoke. The best commencement speech I ever heard at MSU was in the Spring following my freshman year in 1995 when President Bill Clinton delivered the address. I also enjoyed listening to the late NY Times columnist William Safire at my Jewish Theological Seminary commencement in 2004, a memory I blogged about following Mr. Safire’s death this past September.

Perhaps no commencement address, however, compares to Conan O’Brien’s commencement speech to the Havard Class of 2000.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |