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Keynote speaker unlikely with three ceremonies

Commencement ceremonies around the nation have featured figures like President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Jim Carrey. Photos via, and

In a recent interview with The Setonian, Dr. Joan Guetti, senior associate provost, said she understood that students are upset. However, she added, “There is a very practical situation that is involved here too. The more speeches we have, and the longer someone stands up there at the podium, the longer this whole ceremony tends to go.”

Guetti later declined to comment on follow up questions.

Bernadette McVey, director of academic events, initiatives, and planning said, “They’re [commencement speakers in the past] not talking about anything that the students seem to want to listen to and it would be better to have a more student oriented ceremony.”

McVey said that even when Seton Hall thought graduation would be at the Prudential Center, the University did not plan to have a keynote speaker.

Guetti said the decision to continue the streak of student speakers at graduation is still “tentative.” Splitting the 2017 graduating class into three ceremonies complicates things. Also, the cost of attaining a well-known speaker adds to this complication, Guetti said. She continued, “For many of these people who are very famous it is also very expensive to bring them in and is that really where you want your tuition to go?” she asked.

Some students have been showing their anger and disappointment on social media sites like Facebook - students said they have seen the uproar created by graduates through past petitions and are discouraged by what they perceive to be a steadfastly indifferent administration. However, some students said skipping this tradition will cut down on time spent waiting for their name to be called and their diploma presented.

Some students were not hopeful that there would be a commencement speaker this year as they had seen previous graduating classes petition SHU and state their opinions, but there was no action by Seton Hall.

Elaine Benton, a senior education major, said, “I think having it on campus will be special.” However, Benton admits she did not have high hopes in the way of a commencement speaker. 

Cecelia Henry, a senior economics and finance major, echoed this sentiment. “I think that it [having a commencement speaker] could have enriched our graduation especially since we are trading in the Prudential Center for someplace on campus,” she said.

Brynne Connolly can be reached at

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