Washington Secrets

Conservatives snag just 17% of top college commencement speeches

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Higher Education

When President Obama gave his commencement address at Ohio State University last week and admonished Americans to stop listening to the voices of cynicism and criticism, the rest of the nation's top colleges must have been listening because only 17 of them have invited conservatives to speak, according to a new report.

The Young America's Foundation annual review of commencement speakers at U.S. News & World Report's list of 99 top colleges revealed that liberals like Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and PBS' Gwen Ifill dominate, as in years past.

Conservatives are speaking at typically center-right schools such as Pepperdine University, Texas A&M University and Brigham Young University. New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, for example, is speaking at Notre Dame University.

The conservative group compared the commencement speech schedule of Obama to former President Bush and found that the newly re-elected president will have delivered 14 of them in his first four years compared to Bush's 12 over eight years. They found that Obama, a former professor, has an affinity for colleges, spending one of every nine days of his presidency on campus.

YAF has been pushing for a more diverse pool of commencement speakers. "As tuition and student loan debt grow at historic rates, what are students getting for their money?" asked YAF President Ron Robinson. "An education from leftist professors that -- combined with the Obama administration's policies -- has left 53 percent of recent grads unemployed or underemployed. These commencement speakers are just the icing on higher education's indoctrination cake."

YAF said this year's commencement speaker schedule includes 17 conservatives, 62 liberals and the rest either still vacant or filled with a speaker with an unknown political bent like actress Julie Andrews, who is speaking at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and former Orioles great Cal Ripken, who will speak at the University of Maryland's commencement this weekend.

It could have been worse, though. In YAF's 2012 analysis, there were only nine conservative commencement speakers at the top 99 schools.

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