Students Only Likely Candidates For Commencement Speaker

PHOTO COURTESY | University Relations

Hannan Aboubaker will likely not see Drake speak at her commencement ceremony in December.

The senior in respiratory care started a Facebook campaign to land the rapper as commencement speaker at the 10 a.m. ceremony of graduation on Dec. 16. Several hundred Facebook users have expressed interest in the potential event. Timothy Alvarez, vice president for student affairs, said commencement speakers are traditionally students.

“We try to stick with the student focus,” Alvarez said. “We really want it to be about students.”

Commencement speakers are determined by a committee that receives student nominations from college faculty and deans. The committee reviews the nominees and selects a speaker, though alternates are chosen and some years have had multiple speakers, Alvarez said.

President Dean Bresciani and Provost Beth Ingram typically give commencement remarks as well.

“It’s pretty short,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez added he has been responsible for commencement speakers at other universities, and landing outside speakers can be a challenge.

A small budget and finding someone who will likely speak for only travel expenses or otherwise can be difficult, Alvarez said. He added he “invited a lot of people” to speak for commencements, such as a former secretary of state, but “got turned down a lot too.”

“I don’t know if it makes sense to spend a lot of money on a graduation speaker,” he said. “We could spend it on a lot of the other things. Those are my thoughts.”

Aboubaker said North Dakota State could fund Drake’s appearance by canceling Aaron Carter’s April 29 concert and funneling that money toward Drake as commencement speaker.

“I just love Drake and if he were to actually come and speak at my commencement ceremony, I wouldn’t know what to do,” Aboubaker said. “I would probably die from excitement, right on the spot.”

Alvarez said NDSU’s role as a student focused, land grant, research university gives it a certain amount of responsibility to retain its student focus at graduation.

“For me, it’s helping students celebrate all of their work,” he said, but “I think we’d probably consider anything but if it gets away from being student focused or being some big celebrity, I’d hate for that to detract from the students.”

Alvarez added he doesn’t know enough about Drake and said “it depends on the message.”

“If he had a message related to education and challenging students to go out and make a difference, I suppose I wouldn’t mind hearing about it,” he said.

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