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Commencement Speakers

  • 1873 Virginia Gov. Gilbert C. Walker
  • 1874 Maj. Richard V. Gaines
  • 1875 Col. Frank G. Ruffin
  • 1876 Gen. James H. Williams of Winchester
  • 1877 Robert Beverly of Fauquier
  • 1878 Prof. John L. Buchanan, Emory and Henry College
  • 1879 C. A. Bohannon
  • 1880 Hon. A. H. Keeley of Richmond
  • 1881 unknown
  • 1882 unknown
  • 1883 Gen. John Eaton of Washington, D.C. (address before the literary societies)
  • 1884 Del. B. B. Mumford of Pittsylvania County (address before the literary societies)
  • 1885 Hon. Norman Coleman (Colman) of Washington, D.C.
  • 1886 Hon. Charles Triplett O’Ferrall, later Virginia governor
  • 1887 Virginia Gov. Fitzhugh Lee
  • 1888 Thomas Whitehead, Virginia commissioner of agriculture
  • 1889 Thomas Whitehead, Virginia commissioner of agriculture
  • 1890 Peter J. Otey, U.S. House of Representatives, 6th District
  • 1891 Hon. John Goode (address before the literary societies)
  • 1892 Col. A. S. Buford
  • 1893 Judge Walter R. Staples
  • 1894 Claude A. Swanson, Virginia congressman, U. S. House of Representatives, later Virginia governor
  • 1895 Claude A. Swanson, Virginia congressman, U. S. House of Representatives, later Virginia governor
  • 1896 Charles W. Dabney, Jr., President of the University of Tennessee
  • 1897 George C. Cabell
  • 1898 Sen. W. P. Barksdale of Halifax County, Va.
  • 1899 Prof. Francis H. Smith, University of Virginia
  • 1900 Peter J. Otey
  • 1901 Prof. William M. Thornton
  • 1902 Virginia Gov. A. J. Montague
  • 1903 A. C. Braxton of Staunton
  • 1904 Richard H. Edmonds, editor of The Manufacturer’s Record
  • 1905 C. A. Smith
  • 1906 Virginia Gov. Claude A. Swanson
  • 1907 Carlton McCarthy, mayor of Richmond
  • 1908 William W. Finley, president of Southern Railway
  • 1909 Carter Glass, Virginia senator
  • 1910 Charles R. Davis, congressman from Minnesota
  • 1911 W. W. Kitchen, governor of North Carolina
  • 1912 E. F. Swinney, Kansas City, Mo., banker and industrialist
  • 1913 Rosewell Page, second auditor of Virginia
  • 1914 Virginia Gov. Henry C. Stuart
  • 1915 Waller R. Staples, Roanoke judge
  • 1916 William H. Mann, former Virginia governor
  • 1917 Joseph D. Eggleston, president, VPI
  • 1918 R. Holman Willis, member of Virginia General Assembly from Roanoke
  • 1919 Joseph D. Eggleston, president, VPI
  • 1920 Col. LeRoy Hodges, Virginia governor’s aide
  • 1921 Virginia Gov. Westmoreland Davis
  • 1922 William E. Dodd ‘95, University of Chicago professor
  • 1923 Harris Hart, Virginia state superintendent of public instruction
  • 1924 William T. Sanger, secretary, State Board of Education, Virginia
  • 1925 R. B. Tunstall, president, Virginia Bar Association
  • 1926 J. C. Metcalf, dean, University of Virginia graduate department
  • 1927 Virginia Gov. Harry F. Byrd
  • 1928 J. P. Fishburn, president, Times-World Corp., Roanoke, Va.
  • 1929 F. Donaldson Brown, vice president, General Motors Corp.
  • 1930 Col. James P. Woods, member, VPI Board of Visitors
  • 1931 J. G. Bohannon, chairman, Virginia Port Authority
  • 1932 J. Luther Johns ‘97, Chicago patent attorney
  • 1933 Kendall Weisiger ‘99, assistant to president, Southern Bell Telephone
  • 1934 J. D. Eggleston, president, Hampden-Sydney College and former president, VPI
  • 1935 Ashton Dovell, member, Virginia House of Delegates
  • 1936 Virginia Gov. George C. Peery
  • 1937 Virginia Lt. Gov. James H. Price
  • 1938 William E. Dodd ‘95, U.S. ambassador to Germany
  • 1939 Allen A. Stockdale, National Association of Manufacturers
  • 1940, Julian A. Burruss ‘19, president, VPI
  • 1941, Kendall Weisiger ‘99, vice-president, American Telephone and Telegraph
  • 1942 (March) E.B. Norris, dean of engineering, VPI
  • 1942 (June) Julian A. Burruss, president, VPI
  • 1942 (Sept.) T.W. Knote, head of business administration, VPI
  • 1942 (Dec.) P.H. McGauhey, professor of sanitary engineering, VPI
  • 1943 (March) R.H. McNeil, director of public relations, VPI
  • 1943 (May) Paul H. Farrier, associate professor of English, VPI
  • 1944 (March) Walter Rautenstrauch, professor of industrial engineering, Columbia University
  • 1944 (May) John W. Whittemore, associate dean of engineering and head of ceramic engineering, VPI
  • 1944 (Sept.) W. C. Yang, president, Soochow University, China
  • 1945 (March) H. L. Price, dean of agriculture, VPI
  • 1945 (May) Roy J. Holden, head of geology, VPI
  • 1945 (Sept.) Col. R. B. H. Begg ‘99, head of civil engineering, VPI
  • 1945 (Dec.) M. C. Harrison, head of English, VPI
  • 1946 (May) Walter S. Newman ‘19, vice-president, VPI
  • 1946 (Sept.) D. H. Pletta, professor of applied mechanics, VPI
  • 1947 Gen. James A. Anderson, Virginia State Highway Commission
  • 1948 Louis V. Sutton ‘10, president, Carolina Light and Power
  • 1949 Edward McCrady, biologist, Atomic Energy Commission
  • 1950 Walter S. Newman ‘19, president, VPI
  • 1951 Graham Claytor ‘06, operating executive, American Gas and Electric
  • 1952 Walter S. Newman ‘19, president, VPI
  • 1953 Clem D. Johnston, vice president, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • 1954 Elmer L. Kayser, dean, George Washington University
  • 1955 Virginia Gov. Thomas B. Stanley
  • 1956 Virginius Dabney, editor, Richmond Times-Dispatch
  • 1957 Irwin Stewart, president, West Virginia University
  • 1958 Paul N. Garber, bishop, Virginia Methodist Conference, and J. Manning Potts, editor, The Upper Room
  • 1959 John N. Thomas, professor of systematic theology, Union Theological Seminary
  • 1960 Albertis S. Harrison Jr., Virginia attorney general and later governor of Virginia
  • 1961 Maj. Gen. John M. Devine, commandant of cadets, VPI
  • 1962 Colgate W. Darden Jr., former Virginia governor
  • 1963 Virginia Lt. Gov. Mills E. Godwin Jr., later governor of Virginia
  • 1964 J. G. Farrar, president, Rockefeller Foundation
  • 1965 Virginia Gov. Albertis S. Harrison Jr.
  • 1966 T. Marshall Hahn Jr., president, VPI
  • 1967 Virginia Gov. Mills E. Godwin Jr.
  • 1968 T. Marshall Hahn Jr., president, VPI
  • 1969 T. Marshall Hahn Jr., president, VPI
  • 1970 T. Marshall Hahn Jr., president, VPI
  • 1971 Virginia Gov. Linwood Holton Jr.
  • 1972 David Brinkley, NBC News correspondent
  • 1973 Bill Moyers, television commentator and former press secretary to President Lyndon B. Johnson
  • 1974 G. Burke Johnson, C. P. Miles Professor of English and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Virginia Tech
  • 1975 Sam J. Ervin Jr., former U. S. Senator from North Carolina
  • 1976 Edger F. Shannon Jr., former president, University of Virginia
  • 1977 Milton Friedman, Russell Distinguished Professor of Economics, University of Chicago and winner, 1976 Nobel Prize in Economics
  • 1978 Virginia Gov. John Dalton
  • 1979 Eric Sevareid, CBS News correspondent
  • 1980 Jean Harris, secretary of human resources, Commonwealth of Virginia
  • 1981 William E. Lavery, president, Virginia Tech
  • 1982 Christopher C. Kraft Jr. ’44, director, NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
  • 1983 Clifton G. Garvin Jr., chairman of the board, Exxon Corp.
  • 1984 Virginia Gov. Charles Robb
  • 1985 Alexander Giacco, chairman of the board, Hercules Inc.
  • 1986 Alfred C. Payne, retired counselor of religious affairs, Virginia Tech
  • 1987 Virginia Gov. Gerald Baliles
  • 1988 David Roselle, president, University of Kentucky and former provost, Virginia Tech
  • 1989 Mary Sue Terry, Virginia attorney general
  • 1990 (spring) Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder
  • 1990 (fall) Mark O. Hatfield, U. S. senator
  • 1991 (spring) Shaikh Saud Nasir Al- Sabah, ambassador to Kuwait
  • 1991 (fall) W. Ann Reynolds, chancellor, City University of New York
  • 1992 (spring) Jack Nelson, Washington Bureau chief, Los Angeles Times
  • 1992 (fall) Samuel Proctor, professor emeritus, Rutgers University
  • 1993 (spring) John Ashworth, director, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • 1993 (fall) John Kelly, registrar (provost), University College Dublin (Ireland)
  • 1994 (spring) Virginia Gov. George Allen
  • 1994 (fall) Tony Distler, Alumni Distinguished Professor and director of Division of Performing Arts, Virginia Tech
  • 1995 (spring) Beverly Sgro, Virginia secretary of education
  • 1995 (fall) James I. “Bud” Robertson Jr., Alumni Distinguished Professor of history, Virginia Tech
  • 1996 (spring) John Wilson, retired president, Washington and Lee University and former provost, Virginia Tech
  • 1996 (fall) Lucinda Roy, Glorida D. Smith Professor of Black Studies and later chair, Department of English, Virginia Tech
  • 1997 (spring) Raymond J. Lane, president and CEO, Oracle Corp.
  • 1997 (fall) Charles “Jack” Dudley, director University Honors Program, Virginia Tech
  • 1998 (spring) Virginia Gov. James Gilmore
  • 1998 (fall) James R. Craig, professor of geological sciences, Virginia Tech
  • 1999 (spring) Eric Schmidt, chairman of the board and CEO, Novell Inc.
  • 1999 (fall) Paul E. Torgersen, president, Virginia Tech
  • 2000 (spring) John D. Warner, U. S. senator from Virginia
  • 2000 (fall) Arthur L. Buikema Jr., Alumni Distinguished Professor of biology, Virginia Tech
  • 2001 (spring) Rick Boucher, Virginia congressman, U. S. House of Representatives
  • 2001 (fall) Charles “Jack” Dudley, professor of sociology and director, University Honors Program, Virginia Tech
  • 2002 (spring) Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner
  • 2002 (fall) L. A. “Andy” Swiger, dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Tech
  • 2003 (spring) Leroy Rountree Hassell Sr., chief justice, Virginia Supreme Court
  • 2003 (fall) Ezra A. “Bud” Brown, professor of mathematics, Virginia Tech
  • 2004 (spring) Pierre Thomas ’84, U.S. justice department correspondent, ABC News
  • 2004 (fall) Diane L. Zahm, associate professor of urban affairs and planning, Virginia Tech
  • 2005 (spring) David L. Calhoun, president and CEO, GE Transportation
  • 2005 (fall) Minnis E. Ridenour, Senior Fellow and director, Office of Government and Non-Profit Organization Management, Virginia Tech
  • 2006 (spring) Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine
  • 2006 (fall) Henry J. Dekker, retired founder and president, North American operations for Louis Féraud and former member and rector, Virginia Tech Board of Visitors
  • 2007 (spring) Gen. John Philip Abizaid, U.S. Army (Ret.), former commander, U.S. Central Command, and Charles Steger, president, Virginia Tech (special remarks)
  • 2007 (fall) E. Scott Geller, Alumni Distinguished Professor and director, Center for Applied Behavior Systems, Virginia Tech
  • 2008 (spring) Hoda Kotb, “Dateline NBC” correspondent and co-anchor, NBC’s “Today” show
  • 2008 (fall) Gary Downey, Alumni Distinguished Professor, Department of Science and Technology in Society, Virginia Tech
  • 2009 (spring) Gen. Lance L. Smith, former commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command, Norfolk, Va., and NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation
  • 2009 (fall) Rosemary Blieszner, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Human Development and associate dean, Graduate School, Virginia Tech
  • 2010 (spring) Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell
  • 2010 (fall) Jacqueline Bixler, Alumni Distinguished Professor, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Virginia Tech
  • 2011 (spring) Kenneth R. Feinberg, attorney, special master of the federal Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund, and administrator for the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund
  • 2011 (fall) Edward F.D. Spencer, vice president for student affairs, Virginia Tech
  • 2012 (spring) Mark R. Warner, U. S. senator from Virginia, and Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States
  • 2012 (fall) Annie Hesp, instructor, foreign languages and literatures, Virginia Tech
  • 2013 (spring) Charles W. Steger, president, Virginia Tech
  • 2013 (fall) Gerhardt G. Schurig, professor of biomedical sciences and pathobiology and former dean, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech