Please Welcome Kermit the Frog

Kristine Gill

Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Ellen DeGeneres, Steven Colbert and Harry Connick, Jr. addressed college graduates this year and received honorary degrees. None of them spoke at their alma maters. Bruce Willis, Bill Cosby, Billy Joel, Bono and Kermit the Frog have made their own appearances at the podium within the past decade or so.

They are just a few of the most recent keynote speakers to have graced soon-to-be college graduates with their presence at commencement ceremonies. I’m not even sure God knows why some of them were invited.

At some point, someone has to say, “this is ridiculous.” I thought that point came when you introduced a felt puppet. I guess I’m wrong.

I could handle an address at my Kent State graduation from someone like John Glenn who has impacted Ohio, even if he didn’t go to Kent State. (Glenn addressed Ohio State students at their commencement this weekend, though he is not one of their alumni.)

But I’d be less than thrilled to find out Bono or Billy Joel was showing up to give me some last minute advice before getting chucked out into the real world. And I like their music! Both of them! But Bono is an Ireland native; he’s not even a product of the American education system. And Joel dropped out of high school.

One day Kate Gosselin is going to stand up at a podium somewhere eager to spew advice for future multiples mothers and reality TV stars. Are we going to let that happen?

I understand why students at Notre Dame protested Obama’s appearance at their commencement ceremonies. They didn’t want to hear from someone, including their president, whom they felt didn’t share the values and beliefs of their university.

But I have yet to hear about college campuses protesting an address from some Hollywood has-been who, until some agent forwarded a letter of invitation, didn’t know that university existed and only decided to go because the ceremony was scheduled for a weekend that didn’t conflict with an awards show.

Do you want someone showing up to address you who doesn’t know we have a flight school? Someone who didn’t know black squirrels existed? Someone who thinks the Risman Plaza fountain is nice looking?

There are some basic requirements keynote speakers should meet. First, they should be a graduate of the college they’re speaking at. Second, they should be passionate about that university. And third, they should have something important to say that millions of keynote speakers before them haven’t said. They don’t need to be making tons of money, and I don’t have to know who they are. I will be very unhappy if KSU pulls some nobody graduate who reads to the podium and tells me not to be “afraid to dance” and to “challenge” myself.

And I swear if Kermit the Frog shows up to my college graduation ceremony, it better be because he’s graduating with a degree, or else I will strangle his precious felt neck. Miss Piggy will just have to deal.

Kristine Gill is a senior newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].