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Liberals Dominate Commencement Speakers’ Circuit in 2015, Outnumber Conservatives 6-1

By Michael Morris | May 19, 2015 | 4:41pm EDT
(Chart Courtesy of Young America's Foundation)

According to Young America’s Foundation’s (YAF) 23rd Annual Commencement Speaker Survey, among the top 100 universities, liberal commencement speakers outnumbered conservative commencement speakers six-to-one in 2015.

There appears to be a heavy liberal slant in our nation’s top 100 universities. Among the top 100 universities, liberal speakers outnumbers conservatives six-to-one; among the top 50 universities liberal speakers outnumbered conservatives nine-to-one; and among the top 10 universities there were zero conservatives and nine liberal speakers.

The YAF survey finds that a total of 87 liberal speakers were asked to speak at America’s top 100 universities, while only a total of 14 conservative speakers were asked to speak.

Of those surveyed, not a single conservative official currently serving in office was scheduled to speak in 2015. Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Senator Michael Bennet, Congressman John Lewis, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti all received invitations to speak.

The conservative speakers include: Chess Legend Garry Kaparov, Global Chairman and CEO of EY Mark Weinberger, Former Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency William K. Reilly, President and former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Founder, Western Piedmont Metal and United American Steel Company Michael Melio, Former President of the United States George W. Bush, Chair of Vintage Real Estate, LLC Fred Sands, Former Fox News Anchor Brit Hume, Yiddish Scholar, literary and social critic Dr. Ruth Wisse, Former United States Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Darden School Dean, UVA Bob Bruner, Former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, Oxford University Chancellor Christopher Patten and New York Times Columnist David Brooks.

The data show considerable favoritism toward Obama administration officials. In 2015 nine Obama administration appointees are speakers—compared to a meager 14 George W. Bush administration officials for the entirety of Bush’s presidency.

There has been a consistent liberal bias dating back to 2012, wherein the ratio of liberal to conservative speakers was seven-to-one. In 2013, the ratio was four-to-one, and in 2014, the ratio was five-to-1.

“Higher education preaches inclusion and diversity, while largely excluding conservative leaders from campuses. This is exactly why Young America’s Foundation has the largest conservative campus speaker series in the country—because our speakers will likely be the only conservatives students hear from in college,” said Ron Robinson, president of Young America’s Foundation.

YAF surveys the commencement speakers from the top 100 universities, as ranked by US News and World Report, every year. “Commencement speakers were found in online announcements on the universities’ websites or in a news source,” and their respective ideology is determined by “surveying speakers’ public FEC records, searchable public statements and endorsements, and their service in elected or appointed office,” says the survey.

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