How Wake Forest Selects Commencement Speakers

Wake Forest’s Commencement speaker selection process is intentionally aligned with the University’s motto, Pro Humanitate.

“We are called to embody Pro Humanitate at home and in the world. It is therefore appropriate for our Commencement speakers’ lives and careers to demonstrate their commitment to a similar calling,” said President Susan R. Wente.

Each year, a Commencement Speaker Committee chaired by Provost Michele Gillespie and made up of faculty, staff and students nominates a prioritized slate of potential guest speakers to submit to Wente. 

The Committee recognizes the importance and historical significance of the Commencement ceremony and endeavors to involve the campus community in the nomination process and identify potential commencement speakers with whom graduates can relate and who embody the mission and vision of the University.

Each year the committee solicits nominations for potential speakers who reflect the following guiding philosophies:

Close ties to the Wake Forest community are not required for selection but contribute to a speaker’s ability to understand and comment upon the Wake Forest experience. 

Nominations of Wake Forest alumni are encouraged. Regardless of whether they are an alumnus, a parent or family member, a former faculty member, or an inspirational public figure who embodies Pro Humanitate, the chosen speaker will join an esteemed list of past speakers who have encouraged graduates to serve as catalysts for good in society.