Colgate Announces 2018 Commencement Speaker


President of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haas has been selected to  present the Commencement address on May 20, 2018 for the Colgate Class of 2018’s graduation. 

Luke Felty, Maroon-News Staff

In an email to the community on Monday, February 26, Colgate announced that Richard Haass will deliver the 2018 Commencement address. Haass is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), an independent, nonpartisan membership organization that  aims to help people better understand both U.S. foreign policy choices and the world. 

Haass has served as president of the CFR since 2003. In 2017, he published the book A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order.

Prior to serving as President of the CFR, Haass served as the senior Middle East advisor to President George H.W. Bush and director of the U.S. State Department’s Policy Planning Staff. Additionally, Haass worked as the U.S. envoy to the Cyprus and Northern Ireland peace talks and was U.S. coordinator for policy regarding the future of Afghanistan. 

A recipient of the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award, the Presidential Citizens Medal and the Tipperary International Peace Award, Haass is also the author or editor of 13 books on U.S. foreign policy and a book on management. He holds master’s and doctor of philosophy degrees from Oxford University and is a Rhodes scholar.

Senior Administrative Assistant to Vice President Tyburski Maureen McKinnon shed light on the decision to select Haass to deliver the Commencement address.

“Mr. Haass has a very public profile and a broad range of professional international experience that positions him as a wonderful resource for information and perspectives about the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries.  The Class of 2018 is graduating into a dynamic and ever-changing world and his talents and insights were considered relevant in the discussions about potential speakers,” McKinnon said. 

Senior Rahil Uppal reflected on motivations for selecting Haass.

“I’m not sure what to think. I suppose avoiding the failures of modern foreign policy could be an analogy for going out into the world with an inquisitive mind and a solid plan,” Uppal said. 

McKinnon also explained how the speaker and honorary degree recipients are selected.

“Following long-standing governance practices, The Honorary Degree Committee annually reviews nominations it receives from members of the Colgate community to identify candidates for honorary degrees and the Commencement Speaker. It follows guidelines for the selection of recipients that were approved by the faculty and Board of Trustees. The Committee is composed of members of the Board of Trustees, the president, elected members of the faculty and the president of the senior class,” McKinnon said

Haass, Katharine Hayhoe, Garry Kasparov, Sian-Pierre Regis `06 and Professor of English Emerita and Former Interim President of the University Jane Pinchin will receive honorary Colgate degrees. 

Last year’s speaker was Jamaican poet Claudia Rankine. This year’s  address will be delivered on May 20th, 2018.

Senior Emily Daniel is glad that Pinchin will receive recognition for her commitment to Colgate.

“It’s nice to see that Jane Pinchin will receive an honorary degree. She was one of the first women to teach at Colgate, and she teaches English. The Commencement speaker will probably appeal more to the International Relations set, so I’m glad the humanities will be represented elsewhere,” Daniel said.

Contact Luke Felty at [email protected].