Obama Commencement Speeches: University of Michigan, Hampton University

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
This spring, graduating college seniors at Virginia's Hampton University and the University of Michigan will cap off their college careers with a memorable moment -- a commencement speech from President Obama.

It is a long-standing tradition for presidents to give several commencement addresses each year, with one at a military academy. Announcements this week show that this year will be no exception.

(at left, President Obama delivers the commencement address at Notre Dame last year)

Hampton University President William R. Harvey said yesterday that Mr. Obama will serve as the historically black university's commencement speaker on May 9th.

"We are honored that President Obama has accepted Hampton's invitation to speak to our 2010 graduates during our commencement exercises. His commitment to leadership, education and service is parallel to Hampton's mission from our beginning in 1868," he said during an announcement to students at the campus student center," Harvey said.

"The reaction was great," said Yuri Rodgers Milligan, university spokeswoman, according to The Daily Press in Hampton Roads, Va. "Everybody jumped up and cheered."

Earlier on Thursday, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman confirmed Mr. Obama as the keynote speaker for their May 1st commencement, where he will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Laws.

"President Obama has captured the imagination and enthusiasm of many students with his inspiring words of hope and change. We are honored to welcome a leader of his distinction and look forward to his message," said Coleman in a statement." We could not be happier for the graduates who will celebrate their academic achievements with the president of the United States."

Michigan has a long history of presidential commencements, having previously hosted Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. In fact, President Lyndon B. Johnson famously presented his vision of "the Great Society" at the University's 1964 commencement ceremony.

Unsurprisingly, news of Mr. Obama's address has drummed up a lot of excitement within the Michigan community.

University Regent Denise Ilitch said she felt the visit would not only be significant for the University and the students graduating but also for the state of Michigan as a whole, reports The Michigan Daily, the university's student newspaper.

The paper reports that the president could use the platform to outline new initiatives for the nation's economic recovery. Mr. Obama's plans for the economy could be of particular interest to a rust-belt state like Michigan that has suffered acutely during the recession.

"I think it's terrific that he's coming to Michigan, to our state," Ilitch said. "I think the state was so supportive of him during the election and so I'm just especially pleased that he's visiting our state as well as our university."

While an administration official confirmed to the Associated Press that the president would speak at a military academy as well, he declined to specify which since the event has not yet been announced. In 2009, Obama addressed graduates at the United States Naval Academy as well as Notre Dame University and Arizona State University.
  • Tyler Finn

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