5C Commencement Speakers Include Global Leaders, Activists

This year’s commencement speaker lineup at the Claremont Colleges includes influential politicians, humanitarians, entrepreneurs and academics. Four of the 5Cs have announced their 2012 commencement speakers, and two have released the names of their honorary degree recipients. 

Pomona’s speaker will be Cameron Munter, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, said Vice President and Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum. Prior to his appointment in 2010, Munter, a graduate of Claremont High School, served as the Ambassador in Belgrade, as well as Political-Military Minister-Counselor and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Munter’s other domestic appointments include stints with the National Security Council and the U.S. Department of State.     

“Munter was chosen because he’s the ambassador to Pakistan and Pakistan is a hot issue,” Dean of Faculty Cecilia Conrad said. “We wanted the main speaker to be focused on something that we thought would be of general interest to parents and students in attendance.”     

The commencement speaker is always one of Pomona’s honorary degree recipients, Conrad said.    

“[Recipients] are chosen in a trustee-led committee with faculty representatives and the current senior and junior class presidents,” she said. “That committee solicits nominations from the entire campus community. We look for people with connections to Pomona or to our local community. We look for a mix of fields, and for alums who have contributed to their fields.”     

The other Pomona College honorary degree recipients are psychologist Marigold Linton, musician David Murray PO ’77 and President of Occidental College Jonathan Veitch. 

N.R. Narayana Murthy, the founder of Infosys Limited, a global software consulting company, will speak at Claremont McKenna College’s commencement ceremony. He is an IT advisor to several Asian countries and one of the key figures behind the Global Delivery Model that is responsible for the immense success in IT outsourcing from Asia. Murthy has appeared on lists of global business leaders and top CEOs in publications such as The Economist, Forbes and Business Week.    

Associate Vice President for Public Affairs, Communications and Marketing Max Benavidez said that Murthy was chosen because he demonstrates the leadership and innovation that CMC aspires to foster in its students. Murthy is also CMC’s honorary award recipient.

Angela Davis, an American activist, scholar and author, is slated to speak at Pitzer’s commencement ceremony. Davis is a retired University of California, Santa Cruz professor. She has written eight books and her research interests include issues and intersectionalities of race, gender, class and imprisonment.       

Pitzer’s selection process is an administration-driven task that incorporates student input, said Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs Mickey Lee. 

“Pitzer generally polls all the seniors to ask them to nominate who they’d like to see, and we narrow the list down based on certain parameters such as budget and availability. We try to make sure that our speaker is on the seniors’ list,” Lee said.     

Scripps’s commencement speaker will be Zainab Salbi, the founder of Women for Women International, a grassroots organization that distributes aid and micro-credit loans to women survivors of war to help them rebuild their lives.    

“Every year, our class representatives survey their classmates on potential speakers to provide guidance to the president’s office on speaker selection,” Scripps President Lori Bettison-Varga said. “Zainab Salbi was near the top of the list provided to us by the representatives for the Class of 2012.”    

Scripps has a history with Salbi, who spoke at a fundraising event the school hosted in October for her non-profit, Bettison-Varga said.    

Harvey Mudd has not announced its speaker yet.    

Commencement ceremonies will take place May 12 and 13.

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