Last year, UVM chose Ben Stein as its graduation speaker. A smart financial guy, comedian, actor, writer, speaker, and political talking head. UVM President Fogel has a connection to Mr. Stein that allowed the booking to occur.
Mr. Stein's thoughts about evolution, that he had expressed at an earlier campus appearance, irked a number of students; thus, they protested his booking. UVM scrapped Mr. Stein's presentation. Ben wasn't happy. Ah, spilled milk. Instead, UVM booked ex-Gov. Howard Dean to speak. Mr. Stein's fee was to have been up around near seven or eight grand - a healthy discount, Mr. Stein said, from his usual speaking fee.
As of April 19, news items contained information that UVM hadn't chosen their 2010 commencement speaker. I e-mailed the UVM ceremonies office listing my speech topics, and my credentials; vast graduation speaker experience, varied and deeply rooted involvement with Vermont communities, spotless business and personal standing in the state. And when senior classes choose me as their commencement speaker, I take time to visit the students months before the event. Can't imagine showing up on the day never having met them. Schools offer a fee for graduation speeches. I always decline. I wrote UVM I'd accept a fee if they chose me. I think they'd be wise to consider me.
Small chance UVM officials will consider me as a speaker. I understand. At UVM, the powers-that-be are too busy to know who is out there offering something more relevant and entertaining than the likes of a Howard Dean or Ben Stein (two folks who've raised their reputations to a rarefied level).
Students and their families need me as their speaker.
I know how a person should perform, first and foremost, when delivering a graduation speech. Brief - that's it; one should be brief.
Graduation speakers provide a service that is totally expendable; few speakers act as if they realize that. Too bad for grandmothers who travel hundreds of miles to sit for hours in the blazing heat listening as the speaker trumpets, "Back when I signed my first book contract I had no idea...blah, blah, blah."