Update on Commencement Ceremony

Old West

Dickinson President John E. Jones III ’77, P’11, recently sent this message to the campus on the 2024 Commencement Ceremony:

To the Dickinson community:

Dickinson’s mission is to prepare young people for engaged lives of global citizenship and leadership. We encourage students to listen and discuss ideas and perspectives that are challenging and force them out of their comfort zone. That is the role of a liberal-arts campus.  

We hold humility, reflection, engagement and dialogue as the most important values to build understanding of complex issues. As the controversy related to our Commencement speaker, who I have known for many years, developed, I found myself defending concepts that are inconsistent with those values.

It has become clear that our selected speaker, Michael Smerconish, faced overwhelming opposition from our faculty and students, particularly after recent comments he made. As a result, with the support of our Board of Trustees, I have decided to rescind the honorary degree and invitation to speak at Commencement. 

I said previously that Commencement would not be canceled. Commencement is a celebration of our class of 2024 graduates and their families, of a journey successfully completed, and a new one set to begin. It is important to remember that this particular class lost their high school graduations in 2020 due to COVID-19 and had the start of their college experience interrupted.

We want this Commencement to be the most uplifting, memorable, and student-centered event for those graduating and for our community.

These are difficult days across the globe. I look forward to coming together and celebrating our seniors who are resilient beyond measure.


John E. Jones III ’77, P’11

Published May 4, 2024