EXCLUSIVE REPORT: Graduation 2021: A look at the political makeup of upcoming commencement speakers
Donation data reveals that speakers at top schools gave more than 40 times more to Democrats than they did to Republicans.
Dr. Fauci is slated to participate in 5 graduation events - more than any other federal official.
Campus Reform has collected data on which major political figures have been announced as college commencement speakers and found that Democrats and liberals outnumber conservatives and Republicans by a margin of 4 to 1. Out of 69 events at which a notable national-level political speaker will participate (or has participated), 48 of them involve Democrats or liberals. Eleven are affiliated with the GOP, and the remaining 10 are officially nonpartisan.
For this project, Campus Reform is defining a notable figure in politics and government as anyone who is a current or former national-level political figure, federal official (or nominee for a federal post), governor, or mayor of a major city.
Stacey Abrams and Dr. Anthony Fauci are two of this year's most popular speakers. Abrams will speak to graduates at Colorado Law, Clark Atlanta, and Bowie State; she has already delivered the keynote address for Columbia University's Teachers College. Dr. Fauci will appear virtually at UNC, Emory, Vanderbilt, the Yale School of Public Health, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Several schools have invited highly controversial speakers to address their graduates. Ibram X. Kendi, one of the biggest names in critical race theory, will deliver the keynote address at the University of Southern Maine. Bard College graduates heard from Patrick Gaspard, the former head of George Soros' Open Society Foundation (and a former Obama appointee). Angela Davis, an avowed Marxist, is speaking at Spelman College.
Several major figures in the Biden administration will be speaking to graduates in the coming weeks. President Biden is slated to speak to the Coast Guard Academy. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will speak to George Mason University graduates, and Vice President Kamala Harris will speak to cadets at the U.S. Naval Academy, per the Washington Times. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is slated to speak to the Harvard Kennedy School, and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will address graduates at the University of Connecticut. President Biden himself has not yet been announced as a commencement speaker.
Campus Reform only found one member of the Trump administration that has been announced as a speaker thus far; former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be the commencement speaker at Regent University, a small school in Virginia.
Campus Reform used the U.S. News list of top national universities to identify the top 40 of them who have announced their main undergraduate commencement speakers. Of that group of schools, 21 will hear from speakers who donated to Democrats and five will have speakers who donated to Republicans since the start of 2016. (Some of the schools have more than one keynote speaker, and two of the speakers - Delta CEO Ed Bastian and SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell - donated to PACs that funded candidates on both sides of the aisle.) Eighteen of the schools' speakers have made no political donations in that time frame. Since Jan. 1, 2016, this group of speakers has donated more than 40 times more money to Democrats than to Republicans. The group has sent a combined total of $7.6 million to Democrats and $182,528 to Republicans.
View the full breakdown below: