A couple of news stories from The Student Life (Washington University independent paper) regarding the announcement that Mother Goose and Grimm and Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Mike Peters will be this year’s commencement speaker.
The first story is about how Mike wasn’t the model student while at the university.
“I was doing posters for the school; I was working for the yearbook, doing anything I could besides what I was supposed to be doing because it was fascinating to me,” Peters said. “I graduated after I took a couple of extra hours over the summer, and then I got my degree in the mail.”
The second is a report about how many students were disappointed in the pick. I don’t know how representative of the student body the three quoted students were, but the common thread was, “Mike who? He draws what?”
I mention this second story because I’ll venture to guess that most students don’t know their commencement speaker. I hadn’t heard of mine and 14 years later I can only remember that she was female and somehow employed in the space industry (NASA???). But it also services to illustrate that the generation that Mike is speaking to grew up getting news and socializing on the web and not in a newspaper.
That said, Mike has powerful advantages that even more well known speakers wouldn’t have. He’s alumni – he knows the school, its culture and history. He knows the area and he’s been back to the school several times. Secondly, he’s a polished, hilarious and entertaining speaker. No doubt in my mind 14 years later, these students are going to long remember Mike as their speaker.