We couldn’t get anyone interesting?

The UMM commencement ceremony is on Saturday. I’ll be attending in my black robes and funny hat, reluctantly. I go to celebrate the students, but the program is so predictable, and they usually get the most boring speakers. This year, it’s the interim president of the university and former bigwig at Hormel, the spam company, and I’ll be surprised if he says anything but platitudes.

It could be worse. Ohio State’s commencement speaker was a guy named Chris Pan, an entrepreneur, who wrote his speech with the aid of ChatGPT and ayahuasca, led the graduates in a sing-along, and spent a chunk of his time promoting BitCoin, which prompted loud boos from the audience. At least I don’t think we’ll have to suffer through that this weekend.

Maybe it’s for the best that we don’t have any weird speakers.


  1. numerobis says

    Chris Pan, an entrepreneur, who wrote his speech with the aid of ChatGPT and ayahuasca, led the graduates in a sing-along, and spent a chunk of his time promoting BitCoin

    The only weird thing in there is leading graduates in a sing-along. The rest is bog standard tech bro libertarian stuff, but they tend to be biased against singing.

  2. says

    I say, students should be graduated — in milliliters (of an alcoholic beverage). Then they would want to participate in that singalong.

  3. says

    A sing-along would be acceptable if Weird Al Yankovic were the speaker.

    Which leads me to the question, who would be your preferred speaker, PZ?

  4. mathman85 says

    I’m just glad that I’m low enough on the totem pole so as not to be required to attend commencement. Instead, I had the “privilege”—such as it is—of grading final exams during the ceremonies. Honestly, I think I prefer that.

  5. robro says

    They couldn’t get Taylor Swift? Perhaps they could get a large screen display and show her commencement address. It’s on YouTube: NYU’s 2022 Commencement Speaker Taylor Swift From the bit I’ve seen, I would say she’s got platitudes down pat. She’s at 4:30 into the video if you don’t want to watch the introductions for her…two of them.

    Do college admins get a bonus for speaking at commencements? They all seem to need some time at the mic.

  6. laurian says

    Yannow what would be cool? The acting Prez giving each grad a can of Spam w/ their sheepskin

  7. says

    Plus we (OSU I mean) got an apparent suicide which the grads had to walk around. I mean how much cooler can a commencement be?

  8. raven says

    A commencement speech is just made for an AI, a large language model one.

    Just train it on hundreds or thousands of previous commencement speeches.

    You should get a generic commencement speech that won’t offend anyone and no one will remember anyway.

  9. hillaryrettig1 says

    The man from Hormel might also have some interesting union-busting insights.

  10. robro says

    raven @ #10 — You are right. GenerativeAI is a ideal tool for generating vapid platitudes.

  11. chigau (違う) says

    How much does this ceremony cost?
    Are there better ways to spend that money?

  12. John Morales says

    Mmm. At least one person orates, staff and students gather to listen.
    So, obs opportunity costs, there.

    Presumably, UMM already employs people, so one or more of those people could orate.
    After all, they’re getting paid already, no additional cost there.

    Can’t see that it needs be that expensive, given that.

  13. Kagehi says

    Please tell me the nitwit that did this for a commencement is going into law – I want to laugh my ass off when they lose their license to practice, like multiple others have, for using ChatGPT to create legal briefs and then fail to double check and make sure it didn’t literally make up case numbers, and legal precedent. lol

  14. xmnr says

    My commencement speaker told us not to invest in lawnmowers, because soon lawns would be GMO’ed to only grow two inches long.

    This was 1993, and I’m still waiting.

  15. Reginald Selkirk says

    How could this happen? Here’s how:

    Ohio State’s drug-fueled Bitcoin shame starts at the top

    The committee did not recommend Pan. His name was nowhere to be seen in the list of 79 names originally considered by the committee after the recommendation period. After soliciting recommendations…

    The committee then cuts that list to 10 names…

    So, how did the options go from former presidents and famous actors to somebody nobody had heard of? Well, university alumni embarrassed by Sunday’s commencement ceremony can thank one man: Ohio State President Ted “Slapshot” Carter…

    The Commencement Speaker Advisory Committee is truly advisory in nature. Just because the university taps a committee and spends hours vetting candidates, all that work can be thrown in the trash by the university president.

    That’s what happened with President Carter, who, for some reason only known to himself and God, elected to go with an obscure Bitcoin freak over a final list of 10 individuals curated by his underlings…

  16. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    I don’t know why schools even bother having a guest speaker at commencement. It’s saying “congratulations for all the hard work you did, now listen to some blowhard talk about himself for a half hour!”

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