Commencement Speaker Update

Posted: May 11, 2016

Dear Scripps College Community Members,

Scripps will welcome former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as the speaker for this Saturday’s Class of 2016 commencement ceremony.

Recent media coverage has focused on the faculty and students who have voiced their opposition to Albright as our speaker, resulting in a depiction of the Scripps community as intolerant of divergent perspectives. The conversations steered by pundits, bloggers, online commenters, and media outlets do not reflect our campus community’s thoughtful response to the differing views.

The College remains committed to fulfilling the vision of our founder, Ellen Browning Scripps, as we champion intellectual freedom and the open exchange of ideas. We use even the most public opportunities, such as commencement, to enhance the educational experience for our entire community. Rather than focus on the merits of arguments for or against Albright’s address, I write to share with you the ways in which the conversation about Secretary Albright’s appearance has stimulated dialogue, created learning opportunities, and reinforced our commitment to community.

A few facts that have been overlooked include:

  • Secretary Albright has not been disinvited. In fact, many seniors, families, faculty, staff, and alumnae have expressed their enthusiasm for her appearance and are eagerly anticipating her address.
  • Secretary Albright will meet for an informal conversation with students, staff, and faculty the morning of commencement, providing an opportunity to address issues that have been raised by members of our community and to participate in an open dialogue about leadership, diplomacy, and intellectual freedom.
  • The student-led speaker selection committee for next year has listened to the concerns and has incorporated changes into the 2017 commencement speaker selection process to ensure even broader participation among students and prioritization of criteria.
  • Many faculty will participate in the commencement ceremony.

At Scripps College, we remain resolute about modeling the core ideal of intellectual freedom, seizing opportunities to learn and grow together as a community.

As always, please feel free to contact me directly.




Amy Marcus-Newhall
Interim President

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