J.K. Rowling to Speak at Harvard Commencement June 5, 2008

103

Jan 17, 2008

Posted by SueTLC
Uncategorized

J.K. Rowling will be the principal speaker at the Harvard Commencement ceremony June 5, 2008. The Harry Potter author will be featured at the prestigious university’s 357th graduation ceremony this summer in Cambridge, Massachusetts and will also receive an honorary degree. The president of Harvard said:

“Perhaps no one in our time has done more than J.K. Rowling to inspire young people to experience the excitement and the sheer joy of reading’ said President Drew Faust. “Her tales of Harry, Ron, and Hermione and their Hogwarts adventures have cast a spell on millions of readers around the world. Harvard isn’t exactly Hogwarts, but I’m sure that her visit with us next June will be a moment of magic for J.K. Rowling’s many admirers across the University.”

“It will be an honor and a thrill to welcome J.K. Rowling to Harvard’ said Jonathan Byrnes, president of the Harvard Alumni Association. “There are countless Harry Potter devotees throughout the Harvard family, and we look forward to warmly welcoming one of the world’s best-read authors to our Commencement festivities.”

Harvard University is renown for having some of the leading figures of our time speak at their graduation ceremony each year; a full list of past speakers can be found here.

Thanks E!





70 Responses to J.K. Rowling to Speak at Harvard Commencement June 5, 2008

Avatar Image says:

Sweet! Good choice, Harvard.

Avatar Image says:

Congrats to Jo! I wish I knew someone who goes to Harvard though.

Avatar Image says:

Oh that is so nice! I’m a little jealous, but not too much… I had Bill Clinton speak at University of Michigan’s ceremony last April. That was pretty neat :)

Avatar Image says:

Land Quidditch in Harvard Yard??? Naaaa, just can’t see that!!!!

Avatar Image says:

Cool! Good choice, Harvard.

In my head im freaking out a little bit (OMFG JO IS GONNA BE IN MY STATE ONLY AN HOUR DRIVE FROM MY HOME MAYBE I CAN GO OR SOMETHING).

Avatar Image says:

Dang, I wish I was graduating from Harvard instead of UNLV. Any chance you want to make a commencement speech in Sin City Jo?

Avatar Image says:

Wow, that previous speakers list has a thick spread of prime ministers and presidents around the world. What a list to join. A find the entry of John Lithgow rather amusing though in comparison but well done to him too anyway. But more importantly, congrats to Jo and I am sure she will be using the platform to elevate awareness to her charities. Isnt it time though that she be made and OBE or MBE or even Dame There are lesser achievers (though still deserving) who have been made Dame.

Avatar Image says:

NOT FAIR!!! I want Jo to speak at my graduation! My friend at Harvard will lord this over me for eternity… Having Jo at your college commencement ceremony is pretty darn close to the most amazing life experience any normal-ishperson could ever hope to have!

Avatar Image says:

I knew there was a reason that I should have gotten better grades in high school!

Avatar Image says:

Hahahahahahaaa!!! I can see a lot of uppity professors and authors who’ve critizised her in the past sucking on lemons right now. Eeexellent. _

Avatar Image says:

My brother goes to Harvard! Wow! Now I’m excited.

Avatar Image says:

I just freaked out about this. ahhhh Jo is going to be in the same state as me!!!

Avatar Image says:

I have to say that is a very good list of books!!! Congrats Jo!!!

Avatar Image says:

opppsss last post was suppose to be for pervious article!!!

Avatar Image says:

MAN i wish i knew someone at Harvard. this is SO COOL.

Avatar Image says:

That’s so cool. And that’s only like 45 minutes from where I live. Too bad I’m only in 10th grade instead of college :)

Avatar Image says:

I can’t imagine a better way to honor Jo. She definitely deserves this. Snaps for Jo! (Yes, this is an allusion legally blond 2)

Avatar Image says:

Jo is coming to cambridge, MA. oh my god. . those lucky harvard students!!!!!!!!

Avatar Image says:

What a pity it’s not at Yale, cause Harold Bloom would surely die from heart attack! Cheers!

Avatar Image says:

Argh! When my sister graduated from Harvard, the speaker was Tim freaking Russert. Why couldn’t she have graduated this year?? lol

Avatar Image says:

OH. MY. GOD. Jo is going to be FIVE MINUTES AWAY from my HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!! ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I am freaking out! holy crap! I wish I could swear here!

Avatar Image says:

I live pretty close to Boston, but don’t know anyone who is graduating from Harvard…two kids from my school go there, but we aren’t exactly friendly…

Avatar Image says:

This is so unbelievablly cool!!! wouldnt it be awesome to be there? Id go if i had the chance but… like ill have the time

Avatar Image says:

Oooh, those lucky Harvard grads! I’m sure someone will record it, it will be very cool to watch!

Avatar Image says:

Who wants to gate crash with me?

Avatar Image says:

The best times for Harvard are over.

Avatar Image says:

WOW JO!!! THATS IS SOO COOL! and goo leaky!!

Avatar Image says:

damnit. I wish i went to Harvard. Nevermind knowing someone who goes, i wish i was there. Hey Jo, would you please come to Earlham? Pretty please! Kthankx!

Avatar Image says:

er, sorry about the cussing bit. Please avert your eyes from what i just wrote. Substitute it for Darnit!

Avatar Image says:

Ya Harvard and Ya Jo!!!! Although I wish she could have been the speaker in ‘09 instead, then I could have seen her for my reunion! :(

Professor Potter, I think they chose J Lithgow because he is a graduate. Will Ferrell was a class day speaker one year – his speech is hysterical: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPH3hEpEPHY

Avatar Image says:

ooo congrats Jo! (another inducement for my bro to apply to Harvard kekeke)

Avatar Image says:

In recent years many univerisities including Harvard have broadcast the speeches of the main speakers, so we should be able to see her speech and acceptance of her honorary degree.

aillinne, you are wicked, I love your idea of sending her to Yale to cause a ruckus! (i’m an academic, and very anti-Yale…)

Avatar Image says:

I can believe how lucky those graduates are! They don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars, or win a sweepstakes, or be a member of the press, or wait in line for hours to see her speak! haha

I wonder if she will do some other sort of event in the Boston area?

Avatar Image says:

Wow, she’s quite a change from their usual guests. I’d have LOVED to see Kofi Annan speak. Ted Koppel spoke at mine… though, technically, I did graduate with Clint Eastwood!

Avatar Image says:

@ budb

Thanks! ;)

I wonder about that honorary degree: is JKR going to receive LLD, D.A., Doctor of Letters or something else?

Avatar Image says:

budb and ailline: I’m from Yale, and I agree with you both. Professor Pompous Twit (er, pardon me: Bloom) doesn’t speak for all of us. In fact, he’s an embarrassment to a lot of us.

Avatar Image says:

I know she will give a wonderful speech full of warmth and humor. She deserves an Honorary Degree from Harvard. I feel that J.K.Rowlings has inspired people to pursue higher education, as well as focus hard on their early studies. She has also taught a generation to not just look for all the answers out of a book., or expect Professors to provide them with an education. That real education comes from a person’s determination, will, possibly knowing someone like Hermione to fill in the finer points, and pure resourcefulness.

I hope Leaky Lounge will get a transcript of the speech so we can read it.

Enjoy getting your Honorary Degree J.K.Rowlings!

Avatar Image says:

I live 20 minutes from Cambridge!!

do you think I could somehow sneak in? I’m open to suggestions.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Avatar Image says:

That’s great, now I only have to figure out how to get her to my my graduation…lol, way to go Jo and Harvard!!

Avatar Image says:

If I lived near there I would go to the graduation store and buy a cap and gown and try to blend in. Just kidding, but I would probably choose the wrong color or something and stick out like a sore thumb. Ha ha. Seriously though, I hope someone records it so we can see.

Avatar Image says:

Very impressive! We had Malcolm Forbes as our commencement speaker at Syracuse University. I can’t actually remember anything he spoke about though. But, he clearly wasn’t as important to me as Ms. Rowling.

Avatar Image says:

Graduations are public ceremonies, typically. You don’t need an “invitation” to walk onto a campus either. Anybody can attend, just like you can walk onto Harvard any other day. Even if you weren’t allowed to, how could they question you? You’d say you’d know somebody who was graduating. If you’re around, I’d say go for it.

This is tremendously cool. My dad’s reunion was last year, just missed it by a year!!

Avatar Image says:

I wonder if she will do anything else while she is in the states?

I suppose it is useless to hope that she would come to the University of Chicago in the next four years to speak.

Avatar Image says:

Jay, always assumed that was the case, and that the few didn’t represent the entire intsitution…alas, i just hit the few more often! ;-)

ailline, its usually a DA but each place is different so that’s just a guess.

Avatar Image says:

My best friend is graduating NEXT YEAR… dammit…. but this is so amazing!

Avatar Image says:

Interesting and slightly unexpected choice. Okay….

Avatar Image says:

I’m not sure how Harvard does it, but my university (Central Florida) gave each graduate 5 tickets to give to family/friends (it’s got a ton of students though). If that’s Harvard does it similarly, I’m sure we’ll see tickets for sale on Ebay, hehehe.

Avatar Image says:

You know what sucks? My sister is graduating from Harvard this year but they only allow 2 tickets per student, which means I don’t get to go because my parents get the two tickets. They don’t even read Harry Potter! This is not fair.

Avatar Image says:

Mandie, I think they give 2 tickets per student to the morning diploma ceremony but 4 tickets per student to the speaker in the afternoon. (Law students, of which I am one, get four students at any rate and I think the website said it’s the same across the board.) So doublecheck and you may get to go anyway!

Avatar Image says:

Finn BV, unfortunately, Harvard has very tight security all around H. Yard on graduation day. And there will probably be extra measures because of Jo’s popularity. You either have to show a ticket or your student ID to get into the Yard – unless you’re in a graduation procession, of course.

Probably the best thing for fans to do is hang out in the pit near the T stop or maybe somewhere near the Science Center and hope to catch a glimpse of Jo…personally I want a picture of Jo in Annenberg Hall – it looks just like the Great Hall at Hogwarts!

Maybe she’ll do a reading at the Boston Public Library the weekend after…how great would that be?!!!

Avatar Image says:

Why Harvard? Why didn’t Oxford or Cambridge ask for JK to speak? Have other schools been rejected by her or deferred to her sometime reticence to speak in public? No doubt she’ll give a fantastic address calling people – especially the often overindulged of Harvard – to use their lives in service and not just money making, or at least donate more. A good platform to speak from for that.

Avatar Image says:

Oh. My. God.

I am graduating from Harvard this year.

How did I not know about this earlier?

Gosh, I feel stupid now.

Avatar Image says:

Katie – Thanks, I will check. My sister is graduating from law school. I forwarded her your answer. Thanks!

Avatar Image says:

Nami, it was just announced, there’s no way you could have known!

Lou raises an interesting point…have any of the UK Universities …in particular the two big ones, Oxford and Cambridge…offered her similar honors? how about St Andrews or Edinburgh? For her to receive the honors from a US university first would speak volumes about the conservativism of the UK universities. Does anyone know if she has been so honored in the UK?

Avatar Image says:

budb, I’m sure they must have offered. Even Emma Watson has spoken at Oxford, surely you’d ask Jo Rowling before you’d ask Emma Watson (lovely a girl as Emma is)?

I do know however that Jo has recieved honorary degrees from a couple of UK universities, can’t remember the names off the top of my head though.

Avatar Image says:

MY GRADUATION!!!! I am so excited!!! They had this one under wraps for awhile, not saying anything. It’s going to be a mob in the square!!!! Well 4 years of higher learning payed off I guess. HAHAHAHAHA!!! Should be interesting can’t wait to see what she has to say.

Jim

Avatar Image says:

cool! jo must have a lot of respect for Harvard or college students or both to come all the way to the states to speak for a commencement ceremony, but I guess it is a pretty big honor just to be asked! well those lucky students, not only do they get to go to Harvard they get to have the coolest person in the world speak at their commencement!!

Avatar Image says:

just an fyi, it’s impossible to get into commencement if your not a harvard senior, professor, or one of a harvard senior’s 4 closest friends and relatives. they seriously lock down tercentenary theater (the yard where they hold graduation) for days before… but it will be broadcast live on the web, and posted afterwards (probably a few weeks after) on harvard’s website. as an added note, the house e-mail lists are buzzing about this right now, and i couldn’t believe it, but some students are actually angry at the choice of speakers. last year the two major speakers were bill gates and bill clinton, and people seem to expect politicians, world leaders, etc. i know it’s hard for us to believe, but people are genuinely mad . . . or else they could just be taking their finals anger out on Jo . . .

emily

Avatar Image says:

Joanne K. Rowling, OBE, was the commencement speaker at her Alma Mater, the University of Exeter, in 2000. At that time she received the Doctor of Letters (DLitt) degree.

See: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/honorarygraduands/prev_hongrads.shtml

Avatar Image says:

My god… what an honor! JFK, Al Gore, Kofi Annan, just a few of the past speakers… wow…

To the harvard seniors on this thread – you LUCKY DUCKS!

Avatar Image says:

Amy S, the invitation to Emma Watson was to speak at the Oxford Union, which is a student debating society. That’s different from the university offering her an honorary degree, which is what Harvard has done to JKR and which is a much bigger honour. I agree that it would be cool if Oxford would follow suit!

Avatar Image says:

whimper Please come back to Exeter, Jo! puppy dog eyes

Avatar Image says:

Wow! What a huge honour for Jo to be on that list! But she truely does belong there, I mean, what she has accomplished with her writing is more than anyone thought was possible. I’d love to be there to see what she has to say… I imagine it’s going to be something quite honest and thus inspiering :)

Avatar Image says:

thanks Fragesteller, Amy S and gareth…Exeter makes sense, and Gareth is correct re the difference between speaking and honorary degrees…

interesting….the upper crust of universities in the UK are far more conservative than in the US, and “Oxbridge” is (Oxbridge are???)notoriously conservative ...tho I would have thought St A’s and Edinburgh as Scot universities would have honored her by now.

Also, there are informal traditions that come into play with honorary degrees, at least in the US. recipients are often invited to serve in some voluntary capacity on the university’s behalf; sometimes, it is hoped that the recipient will donate to the university in the future (this is not quid pro quo, but rather a future possible denotation to enhance the institution …the JK Rowlings Endowed Chair in Modern British literature would be an example of what could be done 30 years from now); and sometimes recipients also donate their papers to the university’s library. Please let me emphasize there is not the “expectation” that recipients will do any of those things, but rather the hope. Those receiving honorary degrees do not receive a speaker’s fee or honorarium.

Often, speakers at universities (at least here in the US) do receive a speaker’s fee or honorarium, the size of which depends on the importance of the speaker. Many big-name speakers have their fees donated to foundations or to charities.

Surprised to hear that some at Harvard are unhappy with the invitation…it cannot be on political grounds, surely!

Avatar Image says:

@ budb

Regarding JKR’s honorary degrees from Scottish Universities, just look here:

http://gallery.the-leaky-cauldron.org/category/233

and see pictures from: “University of Edinburgh Honorary Degree, July 6 2004” and “Honorary Degree at Aberdeen University, 2006”

Avatar Image says:

aillinne, thanks! like i said, would have been very surprising if she hadnt received Edinburgh!

Avatar Image says:

I have found, I think, something amusing on the web:

“Meanwhile, last month, she won the Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year Award for the third book in the series, Harry Potter and the Prince [sic!] of Azkaban.”

http://calvin.st-andrews.ac.uk/external_relations/news_article.cfm?reference=47

Avatar Image says:

aillinne that’s hilarious! :D

Avatar Image says:

My cousin goes to Harvard…I wonder if he’s graduating then? If this is open to the public, how are they going to keep out all the rabid Potter fans. If I can get to Massachusetts, I’m so going.

Avatar Image says:

uhm… i think i’m going to take the subway into the city and stalk out harvard :D

Write a Reply or Comment

Finding Hogwarts

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.