Tiny Knox College Stands Tall at Commencements

From the New York Times:

All things considered, the graduation speaker who drones on before the mortarboards are sent skyward typically rates low on the college senior’s list of concerns.

But Knox College, the tiny liberal arts institution in Galesburg, Ill., has put together an impressive string of orators over the last five years, and many there expect another big-name personality on June 5.

As that graduation day approaches, Knox’s president, Roger L. Taylor, finds himself in a familiar state of vernal angst.

“This is frankly the most difficult part of being a college president,” said Mr. Taylor, who works with the college’s alumni network to secure the speakers. “It is more than nerve wracking.”

Consider where the bar is set. In 2005, Knox was the site of the first college commencement address that then-Senator Barack Obama ever gave, remarks that were later included in an anthology of greatest speeches by black Americans. The following year, the college nabbed the first commencement speech by Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central’s satirical news pundit.

Former President Bill Clinton and then his secretary of state Madeleine Albright followed Mr. Colbert.