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Last Updated June 20, 2008

2008 Commencement Ceremonies

May 11

Vernon E. Jordan Jr. 2008 Commencement Speech at American University

Commencement Speech by Vernon E. Jordan, Jr.
(approx. 20 min)
Mp3 Download (8.5 MB)
Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. addressed the graduates of the Kogod School of Business and the School of Public Affairs (SPA). Jordan, a prominent lawyer and business executive who has advised Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, currently practices general, corporate, legislative and international law. He is senior counsel at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. In addition, Jordan has served as director of Lazard Ltd. and Lazard Group, a financial advisory and asset management firm, since 2005. (text of speech)

Additional speeches delivered during the Kogod and SPA ceremony:

SPA Dean William M. LeoGrande Mp3 Download (2.2 MB)
SPA student Phillip J. McHugh Mp3 Download (2.8 MB)
Kogod Dean Richard M. Durand Mp3 Download (1.7 MB)
Kogod student Jeffrey V. Smith Mp3 Download (3.4 MB)

Sylvia Earle 2008 Commencement Speech at American University

Commencement Speech by Sylvia Earle
(approx. 25 min)
Mp3 Download (8 MB)
An oceanographer and explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, Sylvia Earle has been called "her deepness" by the New Yorker and the New York Times, a "living legend" by the Library of Congress and the first "hero for the planet." She has a Bachelor of Science from Florida State University, a Master of Science and a Ph.D. from Duke University and has authored more than 150 scientific, technical and popular publications. The president of Deep Search International and the chair of the Advisory Council for Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Earle addressed the graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). (text of speech)

Additional speeches delivered during the CAS ceremony:

CAS Dean Kay J. Mussell Mp3 Download (1 MB)
CAS student Kathryn R. Young Mp3 Download (3 MB)

Kenneth Paulson 2008 Commencement Speech at American University

Commencement Speech by Kenneth A. Paulson
(approx. 25 min)
Mp3 Download (9 MB)
Kenneth Paulson, one of the founding editors of USA Today, the nation's top-selling newspaper, addressed the graduates of the School of International Service (SIS) and the School of Communication (SOC). For nearly three decades, he has drawn on his background as both a journalist and lawyer, serving as editor or managing editor of newspapers in five states and in recent years as the executive director of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University. Paulson, a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law and the University of Missouri School of Journalism, is widely known for his efforts to inform and educate Americans about First Amendment freedoms. (text of speech)

Additional speeches delivered during the SIS and SOC ceremony:

SIS Dean Louis W. Goodman Mp3 Download (1.5 MB)
SIS student Jonathan A. Duncan Mp3 Download (3.2 MB)
SOC Dean Larry Kirkman Mp3 Download (1.7 MB)
SOC student Katharine Amanda Jarmul Mp3 Download (3.6 MB)

Kenneth Paulson 2008 Commencement Speech at American University

American University President Neil Kerwin's Charge to Graduates
Mp3 Download (2 MB)
This speech was delivered to graduates at all commencement ceremonies: "Graduates, my charge to you is that you be confident that we who remain at American University understand that you are our most important legacy. I charge you to remember that whenever we are asked about the value American University adds to the larger society, we point to you first and we point to you foremost...Finally, I charge you to remember that your ties to this institution, to American University, are permanent."

May 18

Commencement Speech by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Gerald Breyer
Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, addressed graduates of American University's Washington College of Law. In 1980, Breyer was appointed to the bench by President Jimmy Carter, as judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, becoming its chief judge in 1990. His nomination in 1994 by President Clinton was hailed by moderate Democrats and Republicans. Breyer received an honorary doctor of laws degree at the ceremony.

American University
Commencement Addresses

President John F. Kennedy spoke at American University's Spring Commencement on June 10, 1963. In this speech Kennedy called on the Soviet Union to work with the United States to achieve a nuclear test ban treaty and help reduce the considerable international tensions and the specter of nuclear war at that time. (text of speech)

Recent Commencement Speakers


2006 | 2005
2004 | 2003
2002 | 2001
2000 | 1999

Speeches on Campus
Commencement Website