Past Commencement Speakers

1945      Emily Taft Douglas (Illinois Representative, U.S. Congress)

1946      Hugh S. Taylor, D.Sc. (Dean, Graduate School, Princeton University)

“Graduating Into the Atomic Age”

1947      Dr. Matthew Thompson McClure Jr (Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Illinois)

“Morals, Intelligence, and Art”

1948      Dr. J. Earl Moreland (President, Randolph-Macon College)

“Our Heritage”

1949      Dr. Francis Pendleton Gaines (President, Washington & Lee University)

1950      Dr. C. Mildred Thompson (Dean Emerita of Vassar College)

1951      Dean Martin ten Hoor (College of Arts and Sciences, University of Alabama)

“Education for Privacy”

1952      Dr. Mary S. Gardiner (Professor of Biology, Bryn Mawr College)

1953      Guy Everett Snavely (Executive Director, Association of American Colleges)

“Non Pro Tempore Sed Aeternitate”

1954      Dr. Susan B. Riley (President, American Association of University Women)

1955      Hon. F. B. A. Rundall (British Consul General, New York City)

1956      Virgilia Peterson (author)


1957      Dr. James G. Leyburn (Washington & Lee University)

“The Coming of Age in America”

1958      Dr. McClung Philip Davidson (President, University of Louisville)

1959      Wilbur S. Edwards (Vice-President, Encyclopedia Britannica Films)

“The Keys to Survival”

1960      Albertis S. Harrison Jr. (Attorney General of Virginia)

1961      Dr. James M. Godard (Executive Director, Council of Protestant Colleges and Universities)

1962      Dr. Samuel R. Spencer Jr. (President of Mary Baldwin University)

1963      Dr. Huston Smith (Professor of Philosophy, MIT)

1964      *Dr. John R. Cunningham (Executive Director, Presbyterian Foundation)

1965      *Dr. Frank Bell Lewis (Dean, Union Theological Seminary)

1966      Samuel R. Spencer Jr. (President, Mary Baldwin University; he was on Fulbright in Germany; speech read by Vice-Pres.)

1967      *Dr. Albert J. Kissling (Minister, Riverside Church, Jacksonville, Florida(

1968      *Dr. Carlyle Marney (Founder, Interpreter’s House)

1969      *The Rev. F. Welford Hobbie (minister, Second Presbyterian Church, Little Rock, Arkansas)

“Behold – A New Thing”

1970      Dr. Harry E. Smith (Executive Director, Society for Religion in Higher Education)

1971      *Dr. William Avery Benfield Jr. (Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Charleston, West Virginia)

1972      N/A

1973      *The Rev. Richard F. Taylor (Minister, Sinking Spring Presbyterian Church, Abingdon, Virginia)

1974      *The Rev. Dr. Catherine Gonzalez (Associate Professor of Church History, Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia)

1975      N/A

1976      *Dr. Albert C. Winn (Minister, Second Presbyterian Church, Richmond

“Women, Work, and Wisdom”

1977      Dr. Elizabeth Babbott Conant (Professor, University of Virginia)

1978      J. Marshall Coleman (Attorney General, State of Virginia)

1979      Ann Crittenden (Staff Reporter and Writer, The New York Times)

1980      James Wilson Newman (Chairman, financial committee, Dun and Bradstreet Corporation)

1981      Jill K. Conway (President, Smith College)

1982      Florence Thompson Jones (Assistant Vice-President, Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith)

1983      Ann Compton (ABC News, White House Correspondent)

1984      Jane F. Crosthwaite (Assistant Professor of Religion, Mt. Holyoke College)

1985      Louise Rossett McNamee Mary Baldwin ’70 (President, Della Femina, Travisano and Partners, Inc.)

1986      Karen Brammer Austin Mary Baldwin ’72 (Actress)

1987      Kate Rand Lloyd (Editor-at-large, Working Woman)

“After Prince Charming, What’s Next?”

1988      Jeri Sedlar (Director of Corporate Affairs, Working Woman/McCalls Group)

“The Magic is You”

1989      Charlotte Lunsford Mary Baldwin ’51 (Former National Chairman of Volunteers, American Red Cross)

“The Challenges for Tomorrow”

1990      Elizabeth Pfohl Campbell (Vice President for Community Affairs, WETA, Washington, DC)

“Your Mary Baldwin Legacy”

1991      Dr. Francis S. Collins (Chief, Division of Medical Genetics, The University of Michigan Medical Center)

“A Trio of Decisions”

1992      Eleanor H. Raynolds, CBE (Partner, Ward Howell International, Inc)

“It All Depends on You”

1993      Elizabeth Hanford Dole (President, American Red Cross)

1994      Nancy Brinker (Founder, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation)

“If I did what I did, imagine what you can do”

1995      The Hon. John S. Warner (US Senator from Virginia)

1996      The Hon. Kay Bailey Hutchison (US Senator from Texas)

1997      The Hon. Emily Couric (Senator, 25th District, Commonwealth of Virginia)

1998      Anna Kate Reid Hipp Mary Baldwin ’63 (Chair, Mary Baldwin Board of Trustees)

1999      The Hon. Kimberly B. O’Donnell Mary Baldwin ’82 (Judge, Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court)

2000      Margaret E. “Lyn” McDermid Mary Baldwin ’95 (Baldwin Online and Adult Programs graduate, Vice president for Information Technology and CIO, Virginia Power)

2001      Rita Dove (Commonwealth Professor of English, University of Virginia – also mother of graduating student)

2002      The Hon. Anita D. Filson Mary Baldwin ’83 (Judge of the 25th Judicial District Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts Staunton and Lexington, Virginia)

2003      Rear Admiral James M. Zortman (Commander of the Naval Air Force US Atlantic Fleet – also, father of graduating student)

2004    Louise McNamee ’70, former advertising executive

2005    Sheila Crump Johnson, co-founder of the pioneering network Black Entertainment Television

2006    Charlotte Jackson Berry ’51, volunteer and philanthropist

2007    Carole Levin, University of Nebraska professor of history and a fellow at the Folger Shakespeare Library

2008    Musimbi Kanyoro, director of the Population Program for the David and Lucille Packard Foundation

2009    Karen Sherman, executive director for global programs at Women for Women International

2010    Tracy Gary, co-founder of the organization Inspired Legacies

2011    Shirley Fulton, former Superior Court judge for the state of North Carolina

2012    Abigail Disney, scholar, philanthropist, award-winning filmmaker

2013    The Hon. Pamela Shell Baskervill ’75, judge of the 11th Circuit of Virginia

2014   Beth Macy, author and journalist

2015 Christian Peele ’05, director of stewardship and development at The Riverside Church, Manhattan NY


*Denotes Baccalaureate speaker only; no Commencement Speaker