Commencement speakers’ $80k selection process, explained

Astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, left, will deliver the graduate commencement address on May 17, while  Brandon Stanton, photographer and founder of the popular Humans of New York photo blog will give the undergraduate commencement speech on May 19. (Photos courtesy of Kean University)

Astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, left, will deliver the graduate commencement address on May 17, while Brandon Stanton, photographer and founder of the popular Humans of New York photo blog will give the undergraduate commencement speech on May 19. (Photos courtesy of Kean University)

By Babatunde Dahunsi | Published  April 29, 2016

Student Organization selects the commencement speakers each year, but they do so without taking a vote from the student body and must get approval from the university.

The designated undergraduate commencement speaker for 2016 at Kean is Brandon Stanton photographer  and founder of Humans of New York, a prominent blog that  presents photographs and interviews of common people. NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly will give the graduate commencement speech.

One student said he found the process of choosing the commencement speaker to be ambiguous.

“I honestly didn’t even know there was a process that people get to be involved in. I’ve never heard anything of that regard,” said Ose Pius, a business major.

Student Organization comes up with a list of possible options for speakers. These options are all constructed based on price and availability. Kean must then get in contact with agents, managers, and representatives of the potential speaker, Student Organization told The Tower.

The potential candidates must be approved by the school before going forward.

Having conversations with the potential speaker gives Kean a proper scale of who would best fit the school cost effectively and reliably.

“Based upon who can fit within an affordable factor and who the students like we would agree on having those students for Graduate and Undergraduate commencement,” said Nigel Donald, executive president of Student Organization.

Both speakers will receive $40,000 each for their speeches. Student Organization, which represents full- time undergraduate students, split the fee evenly with Kean University.Likewise, the Graduate and Part-Time Student Council split the price for their speaker evenly with the university, Kean spokeswoman Margaret McCorry said.

“In the end we are more than thrilled that the undergraduate commencement speaker Brandon Stanton was one of the top choices from the undergraduate students,” said Lawrence Owens, the newly-elected president of Graduate and Part-Time Student Council.

“That was someone who they wanted, we are thrilled we were able to get him for their graduation.”

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