Gov. Wes. Moore smiles, wearing a suit and tie, in front of a blue background and a Maryland State flag
Gov. Wes Moore will deliver Coppin State University's commencement address.

As the calendar flips to May, college students and their families turn their thoughts to graduation.

Maryland colleges and universities are gearing up to send off their students into the world with words of encouragement and advice from leaders in their fields.

Baltimore Fishbowl has put together a list of some of the commencement speakers who will honor local graduates with their wisdom, wit, and experience.

(Some universities and colleges have not yet released news of their commencement speakers. This article may be updated.)

Coppin State University

Gov. Wes Moore, Maryland’s 63rd governor and the state’s first Black governor, will deliver the keynote address during Coppin State University’s 2023 commencement ceremony. Born in Tacoma Park, Moore served as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University, and was Hopkins’ first Black Rhodes scholar. He also earned his master’s degree from Wolfson College at Oxford. Moore served in Afghanistan in 2005, and was a White House fellow upon returning from combat. He’s a best-selling author and an entrepreneur, who has also served as CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation. Coppin State University President Anthony L Jenkins said, “This is a historic moment, and we are honored he has chosen Coppin State University to deliver his first commencement address as Maryland’s first sitting African American Governor…His words will inspire and uplift our graduates as they prepare to leave Coppin and conquer the world.”

Goucher College

Playwright and Baltimore native Anna Deavere Smith will deliver the keynote address for Goucher College’s commencement ceremony. Smith is well known for her plays, including “Fires in the Mirror” and “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992,” among others. Those two plays earned her back-to-back Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Solo Performance in 1993 and 1994, respectively. In addition to her on-stage acting, Smith has also appeared in various television and film projects, such as “The West Wing,” “Nurse Jackie,” and “Inventing Anna.” Time Magazine named her play “Notes From the Field” one of the Top 10 Plays of 2016. Smith interviewed students from the Goucher Prison Education Partnership as part of her background research for that play, which examines how education and incarceration intersect in America.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University has not yet announced their commencement speaker.

Loyola University Maryland

Chris Lowney, chair of the Board of CommonSpirit Health, will deliver the address at Loyola University Maryland’s 170th commencement. Lowney is a former Jesuit seminarian. He also served as managing director of JP Morgan and company. He’s the author of six books, co-author of two more, and has one book that has been translated into 11 languages. Lowney earned a bachelor’s degree in history, graduating summa cum laude from Fordham University, where he also received his master’s in philosophy. He has been awarded nine honorary doctoral degrees.

Maryland Institute College of Art

During the undergraduate and graduate commencement ceremonies for the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), the 2023 honorary degree recipients will address the students.

For the undergraduate commencement, the honorary recipients will be multidisciplinary artist and educator Derrick Adams, and Maryland’s former First Lady Yumi Hogan. Adams, a Baltimore native, has exhibited his work at Baltimore City Hall, the SCAD Museum of Fashion + Film in Atlanta, Luxembourg & Dayan in London, and many other places. Hogan is a 2008 MICA graduate, who earned her bachelor’s of fine arts in painting. She is an award-winning artist, adjunct faculty at MICA, and an advocate for the arts, art therapy, and other causes.

The honorary degree recipients for the graduate commencement will be Galerie Myrtis owner and founding director Myrtis Bedolla, and attorney James D. Wright. Bedolla’s gallery and art advisory specializes in 20th- and 21st-century American art, particularly African American artists. In 2022, Bedolla was the first Black woman-owned art gallery owner to participate in the Venice Biennale exhibition. Wright is a retired partner at Venable LLP. He is also a trustee of the Phillip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation, which helps fund MICA’s entrepreneurship programming.

McDaniel College

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and bestselling author Bob Woodward will be the commencement speaker for McDaniel College’s undergraduate ceremony. Woodward earned a Pulitzer Prize with fellow journalist Carl Bernstein in 1973 for their coverage of the Watergate scandal. He also shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Woodward is the author of 21 best-selling books, including “All the President’s Men,” which he co-authored with Bernstein about their Watergate investigative reporting. He most recently wrote “Peril” about the transition between the Trump and Biden administrations.

Sharon Love, founder of the One Love Foundation, will give the commencement remarks for McDaniel’s graduate ceremony. Love created her foundation in honor of her daughter, Yeardley Love, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend weeks before graduation in 2010. The One Love Foundation was founded with the goal of ending relationship abuse.

Morgan State University

Benjamin Crump, a nationally recognized civil rights attorney and an advocate for social justice, will be Morgan State University’s keynote speaker at its 146th spring commencement exercises. Crump has spearheaded legislative reforms to prevent police use of excessive force. He has represented families of victims who were killed or assaulted by police officers, including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. He has advocated for residents of Flint, Michigan, who were affected by the contaminated drinking water, and the family of Henrietta Lacks, whose cells were used without her knowledge or permission to shape medical research. “Mr. Crump’s passion for addressing injustices committed against marginalized communities and his unrelenting work to hold those responsible accountable, is the type of tenacity we hope will inspire our graduates and current students,” said Morgan State University President David K. Wilson.

Notre Dame of Maryland University

Notre Dame of Maryland University’s commencement address will be delivered by Rosie Rios, former treasurer of the United States and current CEO of the real estate investment management consulting firm Red River Associates . Rios served as the 43rd U.S. Treasurer from 2009 to 2016 as part of the Obama administration, during which time she initiated and led the U.S. Treasury Departments efforts to place Marylander and abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s portrait on the $20 bill. The Treasury Department bestowed its highest honor, the Hamilton Award, on Rios upon her leaving the department. Rios was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame in 2019, and USA Today named her one of 10 Women of the Century for the state of Maryland in 2020. Rios was recently appointed to serve as chair of America250, the Congressional Commission tasked with planning the nation’s 250th anniversary in 2026. A graduate of Harvard University, she has served as a Visiting Scholar at the university’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and is the first Latina for whom Harvard has commissioned a portrait.

Towson University

Glenn Stearns, star of Discovery Channel’s “Undercover Billionaire,” will deliver Towson University’s 2023 commencement address. Stearns earned his bachelor’s in economics from Towson University as part of the class of 1987, and he formed the California mortgage company Stearns Lending when he was 25. According to Towson’s newsletter, “Stearns often discusses his humble beginnings growing up in a low-income neighborhood outside Washington, D.C. He failed the fourth grade, was diagnosed with dyslexia and fathered a child at age 14.” Yet he became the first person in his family to attend college and earn a degree. He is an entrepreneur, TV star, two-time cancer survivor, and world traveler. “It wasn’t until I was an adult and learned that often times the best things in life come to you wrapped in packages that appear to be full of failure and disappointment,” he told the university’s newsroom. “It’s the silver linings that make for the best success and best stories of our lives.”

University of Baltimore

Mayor Brandon Scott, Baltimore’s 52nd mayor, will deliver the keynote address at the University of Baltimore’s commencement morning ceremony. Scott was elected to represent Baltimore’s 2nd council district in 2011 at the age of 27, one of the youngest people ever elected to the Baltimore City Council. He went on to serve as council president, prior to being elected mayor in 2020. He also served as chair of the National League of Cities Large Cities’ Council.

John Waters, acclaimed film director author and social critic, will receive an honorary degree of humane letters from the University of Baltimore during the afternoon commencement ceremony. A Baltimore icon, Waters has written and directed 16 films, including “Hairspray,” “Polyester,” “Pink Flamingos,” and “Serial Mom,” all set in Baltimore.

University of Maryland, College Park

Broadcast journalist Gayle King will deliver University of Maryland, College Park’s commencement address. King, who is a member of UMD College Park’s class of 1976, is has delivered original reporting for CBS Mornings and all CBS News platforms. She hosts a weekly radio show on SiriusXM, entitled “Gayle King in the House,” and is editor-at-large of Oprah Daily. Born in Chevy Chase, Maryland, she earned her degree in psychology from College Park. She has won three Emmy Awards, and has been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. She has also won the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism.

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