Commencement Dates and Speakers

At Pitzer College, it is an annual tradition for the graduating class to select their commencement speaker. 

#Academic YearCeremony DateSpeaker
11964-65June 6, 1965James Dickey, author, poet-in-residence
21965-66June 5, 1966Kenneth R. Pitzer, President, Rice University and son of founder Russell K. Pitzer
31966-67June 11, 1967William R. Rogers, writer-in-residence
41967-68June 9, 1968Stephen L. Glass, Pitzer Professor of Classics
51968-69June 8, 1969David Reisman, Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences, Harvard University
61969-70June 7, 1970John W. Atherton, writer and Pitzer College founding president
71970-71June 6, 1971Sylvia Mead, Aquanaut and Los Angeles Times Woman of the Year, 1970
81971-72June 4, 1972William Russell Ellis, Professor of Sociology, UC Berkeley and former Pitzer professor, 1966-1969
91972-73June 10, 1973Sister Helen Kelley, President, Immaculate Heart College
101973-74June 9, 1974Harry Reasoner, ABC news commentator and Pitzer Parent ’74
111974-75June 8, 1975John Vasconcellos, California Assemblyman, 23rd District
121975-76June 6, 1976Ray Bradbury, author
131976-77June 5, 1976Tom Bradley, Mayor of Los Angeles
141977-78May 21, 1978James A Joseph, Undersecretary, US Department of the Interior
151978-79May 20, 1979Art Seidenbaum, book editor, Los Angeles Times
161979-80May 18, 1980Ronald KS Macauley, Pitzer Professor of Linguistics
171980-81May 17, 1981Jacquelyn A Mattfield, educator and humanist
181981-82May 16, 1982Paul Saltman, Professor of Biology and former Provost and Vice Chancellor, UC San Diego
191982-83May 15, 1983Marvin L. Goldberger, President and Professor of Physics, California Institute of Technology
201983-84May 13, 1984Paul Conrad, Editorial Cartoonist, Los Angeles Times
211984-85May 19, 1985Sandra Scarr, Psychologist, University of Virginia
221985-86May 18, 1986Alfred H Bloom, Professor of Psychology and Linguistics, Swarthmore College
231986-87May 17, 1987Russell Means, American Indian Activist
241987-88May 15, 1989James Dickey, Professor of English, University of South Carolina (also first commencement speaker)
251988-89May 14, 1989John W Atherton, writer and founding president of Pitzer College (also commencement speaker in 1970)
261989-90May 13, 1990David Hwang, writer and playwright
271990-91May 19, 1991Diane Mosbacher ’71, Regional Medical Chief, San Mateo County, California
281991-92May 17, 1992Emily A Stevens ’71, Superior Court Judge
291992-93May 16, 1993Sheila Kemper Dietrich ’79, VP, Missouri United Bank
301993-94May 15, 1994James A Joseph, Council on Foundations
311994-95May 14, 1995Xavier Becerra, Representative, 30th Congressional District
321995-96May 12, 1996Edward James Olmos, Actor, Director, Activist
331996-97May 18, 1997Yolanda King, founder of Higher Ground Productions; religious, education, civic, and human rights activist
341997-98May 17, 1998Joe Clark, educator, author, former principal of Eastside High School, Patterson, New Jersey, subject of 1989 film Lean on Me
351998-99May 16, 1999Martin Espada, poet and essayist
361999-2000May 14, 2000Susan Estrich, political advisor, law professor, and syndicated columnist
372000-01May 13, 2001Dr. Jocelyn Elders, former Surgeon General of the United States
382001-02May 19, 2002Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Professor of Women’s Studies, Spelman College
392002-03May 18, 2003Naomi Wolf, author, feminist, and social critic
402003-04May 16, 2004Bernardine Dohrn, director of the Children and Family Justice Center, Northwestern University of Law
412004-05May 15, 2005Sarah Weddington, attorney and spokesperson on leadership and public issues
422005-06May 14, 2006Fabian Nunez ’97, speaker of the California State Assembly
432006-07May 13, 2007Eric Schlosser, author, reporter
442007-08May 17, 2008Samantha Powers, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, foreign policy analyst, journalist, professor
452008-09May 16, 2009David Feldman, writer, comedian, and author
462009-10May 15, 2010Cory A Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey
472010-11May 14, 2011Max Brooks ’97, author and screenwriter
482011-12May 12, 2012Angela Davis, author, educator, and activist
492012-13May 13, 2013Jon Lovett, writer and humorist
502013-14May 17, 2014Van Jones, environmentalist, social justice champion, and CNN correspondent
512014-15May 16, 2015Janet Mock, bestselling author, commentator, and trans women’s rights activist
522015-16May 14, 2016Patrisse Cullors, social activist, artist, and co-creator of the Twitter hashtag #BlackLivesMatter
532016-17May 13, 2017Guy Raz, TED Radio Hour host
542017-18May 12, 2018Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America
552018-19May 18, 2019Laverne Cox, actress and activist
562019-20May 21, 2022*Sikivu Hutchinson, award-winning writer, activist, educator, and director
572020-21May 15, 2021**Mondaire Jones, US Representative (D-NY)
582021-22May 14, 2022LaTosha Brown, award-winning organizer, political strategist, and philanthropic consultant, the Black Voters Matter Fund

*In-person commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 was postponed until May 21, 2022, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown.

**A virtual commencement was held for the Class of 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown.