Carnegie Mellon University

Commencement Weekend

May 19 - 20, 2018

Keynote and Honorees

The keynote address and awarding of honorary degrees are major highlights of the main commencement ceremony. An honorary degree from Carnegie Mellon is one of the highest distinctions the university bestows upon an individual, and awarding them is a long-standing tradition.

The keynote speaker and honorary degree recipients are an inspiration to the Carnegie Mellon community, especially to the graduating students. They add luster to the commencement ceremony by underscoring the importance of the university in the world and honoring those who have made an impact in the arts, business, computer science, engineering, humanities, policy, sciences or social sciences.

The 2018 keynote speaker and honorary degree recipients will be announced in the spring. Until then, here is a list of honorees from recent years. 

Past Speakers and Honorees


Keynote Speaker

  • Meg Whitman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
    (also received an honorary degree)
Honorary Degree Recipients
  • Mahzarin R. Banaji, Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics, Department of Psychology, Harvard University
  • Vivian Davidson Hewitt (MM 1944), Retired Chief Librarian, Art Collector and Distinguished Awards Recipient
  • Michael Keaton, Actor
  • Bernard Osher, Founder and Treasurer, The Bernard Osher Foundation


Keynote Speaker

  • Earl Lewis, president, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
    (also received an honorary degree)

Honorary Degree Recipients

  • Holly Hunter (A 1980), actress/producer
  • Robert S. Langer, David H. Koch Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Sonia Manzano (A 1972), actor/author
  • James R. Swartz (TPR 1966), founding partner, Accel Partners


Keynote Speaker

  • Alan Alda, actor, writer and director
    (also received an honorary degree)
Honorary Degree Recipients
  • Joyce Kozloff (A 1964), artist
  • Kai-Fu Lee (CS 1988 and past faculty), chairman and CEO, Innovation Works
  • Stephen Schwartz (A 1968), composer and lyricist
  • Carl E. Wieman, professor, Department of Physics and Graduate School of Education, Stanford University
Contact University Events for a complete history.