On Saturday, May 12, only one thing will be standing between graduating Butler University seniors and their hard-earned diplomas—Rick Stengel.
Stengel, managing editor of TIME Magazine, recently accepted Butler’s invitation to deliver an address at the 2012 commencement ceremony.
Stengel’s accomplishments include various positions at TIME Magazine, a period of time as president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, a term as Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton.
He has also written several books and collaborated with Nelson Mandela to publish Mandela’s autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom.”
Reactions from students have been positive, according to social media.
Senior media arts major Rachel Senn posted on Twitter, “I’m actually super stoked to have Rick Stengel as our commencement speaker. Nice work @butler2012 & @ButlerPrez,” from @RachelSenn.
Senior public relations and business major Emily Elliott tweeted, “So excited that Rick Stengel, Managing Editor of @Time Magazine is going to be our May 2012 Commencement Speaker!” from @emilyelliott2.
Senior class president Chris Beaman said Stengel was nominated by a very national service-oriented senior class.
“We are lucky to have Rick Stengel, because I think he represents the student body well,” Beaman said. “He’s funny, he’s engaging, he’s very active and he’s involved in national service.”
Lauren Pedigo, senior class secretary and integrated communications major, shared Beaman’s excitement.
“I was ecstatic when I found out it was him,” she said. “I think he’s a very relevant person to our group and our class.”
Beaman said he was unfamiliar with Stengel after the announcement but after doing some research was thoroughly impressed with the way he tailors each speech to his audience.
“As I started researching him and listening to some of his speeches, I could not be more impressed with their selection,” Beaman said. “As a graduating senior, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to hear his motivation.”
Pedigo said she is eager to hear how Stengel uses his experiences to relate to the senior class.
“I’m a journalism minor, so I understand that realm, and I’m sure it will relate to what I’ve been studying,” she said.
Butler does not pay its commencement speakers, Beaman said. This is contrary to other universities.
“I think it’s valuable that the Board of Trustees thinks a Butler honorary degree should be important and valuable enough to perform a commencement speech with requiring monetary compensation,” he said. “I think it shows us that our education is much more valued than Butler’s money to throw out to a commencement speaker to bring in.”
Stengel’s role will be to offer a last piece of advice and motivation to the graduating class of 2012 before the students step across the podium and enter the real world.
“We’ve done all this work to get here,” Beaman said. “The commencement speaker is that one last thing to give us the inspiration, the last lecture we have to sit through to go out and change the world.”
Stengel will receive an honorary Butler degree in honor of his role as commencement speaker. He currently holds honorary degrees from Wheaton College and Wittenberg University.