List of commencement speakers at Rice University
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In 2013, Rice University held its 100th commencement. Since 1986, commencements have been held in the Academic Quadrangle (weather permitting). Every commencement at Rice has included the hymns Veni Creator Spiritus and Lord of All Being, Throned Afar.
- 2016: Sheryl WuDunn
- 2015: Colin Powell
- 2014: Helene D. Gayle
- 2013: Neil deGrasse Tyson
- 2012: Salman Khan – (video)
- 2011: David Brooks – (video)[permanent dead link]
- 2010: Muhammad Yunus – (video)[permanent dead link]
- 2009: Zainab Salbi – (video)[permanent dead link]
- 2008: George Rupp – (video)[permanent dead link]
- 2007: John Doerr – (audio)[permanent dead link]
- 2006: Bill White – (audio)[permanent dead link]
- 2005: Michelle Hebl
- 2004: Alberto Gonzales
- 2003: Shannon Lucid
- 2002: Bill Cosby
- 2001: Morris Dees
- 2000: George H. W. Bush
- 1999: Helmut Schmidt – (text)
- 1998: Kurt Vonnegut
- 1997: Alan Dershowitz
- 1996: Anita K. Jones
- 1995: Bill Bradley
- 1994: Elizabeth Dole
- 1993: Jimmy Carter
- 1992: Richard von Weizsäcker
- 1991: James A. Baker III
From 1971 to 1990, Rice did not invite speakers to address graduates at commencement. During that time, addresses were given by university presidents Norman Hackerman (1971–1985) and George Rupp (1986–1990).
From 1952 to 1985, commencements were held on the east side (lawn) of Lovett Hall.
- 1970: T. Harry Williams, Professor of History, L.S.U.
- 1969: Harry H. Ransom, Chancellor, Univ. of Texas
- 1968: William H. Masterson, President, Univ. of Tennessee at Chattanooga
- 1967: Robert A. Charpie, President, Electronics Division, Union Carbide
- 1966: Jack K. Williams, V.P. for Academic Affairs and Dean, Clemson Univ.
- 1965: Henry Allen Moe, President, American Philosophical Society
- 1964: Charles Hard Townes, Provost, M.I.T.
- 1963: John Connally, Governor, Texas
- 1962: Merrimon Cuninggim, Executive Director, Danforth Foundation
- 1961: Herbert E. Longenecker, President, Tulane Univ.
- 1960: Harvie Branscomb, Chancellor, Vanderbilt Univ.
- 1959: George R. Harrison, Dean of the School of Science, M.I.T.
- 1958: John W. Gardner, President, Carnegie Foundation
- 1957: Julius Adams Stratton, Chancellor, M.I.T.
- 1956: John Hasbrouck Van Vleck, Dean of Engineering, Harvard Univ.
- 1955: J. William Fulbright, Senator, Arkansas
- 1954: J. E. Wallace Sterling, President, Stanford Univ.
- 1953: Roger Philip McCutcheon, Dean of the Graduate School, Tulane Univ.
- 1952: Douglas Southall Freeman, Scholar from Richmond, Virginia
In 1951, commencement was held in Autry Court.
- 1951: Lewis Webster Jones, President, Univ. of Arkansas
From 1935 to 1950, commencements were held in courtyard of the Chemistry Laboratories (now Keck Hall).
- 1950: Robert Andrews Millikan, V.P. of the Board, California Institute of Technology
- 1949: Detlev W. Bronk, President, Johns Hopkins Univ.
From 1916 to 1948, commencements were held on Monday, preceded by a Baccalaureate sermon on Sunday.
- 1948: Blake Ragsdale Van Leer, President, Georgia School of Technology
- 1947: Frederick Hard, President, Scripps College
From 1942 to 1946, addresses were delivered by William Vermillion Houston, President of Rice Institute. In 1944 and 1946, Rice held two commencement ceremonies each year as part of a “wartime speed-up educational program.”
- 1941: Isaiah Bowman, President, Johns Hopkins Univ.
- 1940: James Rowland Angell, President Emeritus, Yale Univ.
- 1939: George Edgar Vincent, Former President, Rockefeller Foundation
- 1938: George Norlin, President, Univ. of Colorado
- 1937: Frank Pierrepont Graves, President, State Univ. of New York
- 1936: Harold Willis Dodds, President, Princeton Univ.
- 1935: Ralph Budd, President, Burlington Lines
From 1916 to 1934, commencements were held in the Academic Quadrangle.
- 1934: John Campbell Merriam, President, Carnegie Institution of Washington
- 1933: Edwin Grant Conklin, Professor of Biology, Princeton Univ.
- 1932: Roscoe Pound, Dean of the Law School, Harvard Univ.
- 1931: Captain James A. Baker, Chairman of the Board, Rice Institute
- 1930: Ralph Adams Cram, Supervising Architect, Rice Institute
- 1929: William Edward Dodd, Professor of American History, Univ. of Chicago
- 1928: John Huston Finley, Editor, New York Times
- 1927: Baron de Cartier de Marchienne, Belgian Ambassador to the U.S.
- 1926: Joseph Sweetman Ames, Professor of Physics, Johns Hopkins Univ.
- 1925: Stockton Axson, Professor of English, Rice Institute
- 1924: Charles William Dabney, Former President, Univ. of Cincinnati
- 1923: Edgar Fahs Smith, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, Univ. of Pennsylvania
- 1922: Frank Thilly, Professor of Philosophy, Cornell Univ.
- 1921: Charles William Eliot, President Emeritus, Harvard Univ.
- 1920: J. C. Hutcheson, Judge of the Federal Court
- 1919: William M. Thornton, Dean of the Department of Engineering, Univ. of Virginia
- 1918: Nelson Phillips, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas
- 1917: William H. Carpenter, Provost, Columbia Univ.
- 1916: David Starr Jordan, Chancellor Emeritus, Stanford Univ.
- "Rice Institute Class of 1946 Commencement programs". Rice University Digital Scholarship Archive. Retrieved 21 August 2012.