A Look Back: Nichols Commencement Speakers from the Past Decade

  • STORY UPDATED April 9, 2019
  • Commencement will be held Saturday, May 11, at the DCU Center in Worcester. The ceremony starts at 1:30 p.m.


You may know by now that this year’s Commencement speaker will be Massachusetts Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. Her boss, Governor Charlie Baker, had the gig in 2016. And you may remember our speaker last year, Hollywood movie producer Louis Stroller (“Scarface,” anyone?).

But what about the other speakers from the past decade? Could you list who they were? Well, don’t worry if you can’t; we’ve done the digging for you, and it’s quite an impressive list.

For starters, here’s a news clip from WCVB Channel 5’s coverage of the 2010 Nichols Commencement, when a certain new United States senator from Massachusetts spoke to the graduating class:

Here’s the list of Nichols College Commencement speakers from the past decade:



Thanks to Nichols College Library Director Jim Douglas for the following information on the College’s past speakers:

  • 2008: Thomas G. Sternberg, managing general partner, Highland Capital Partners
  • 2007: Christopher S. Murphy, U.S. congressman (current U.S. senator), Connecticut
  • 2006: Debra M. Murphy, president of Nichols College
  • 2005: Arun Manilal Gandhi, visionary; fifth grandson of Mohandas Gandhi
  • 2004: Wayne Soares, president, JB Enterprises
  • 2003: Robin Roberts, TV news anchor, ABC News “Good Morning America”
  • 2002: Jane Swift, governor of Massachusetts
  • 2001: Stephen P. Tocco, chairman, Massachusetts Board of Higher Education
  • 2000: James Fitzgerald, founder of Student Leadership Training Program
  • 1999: Robert A. Durand, secretary of Environmental Affairs Commission of Massachusetts
  • 1998: Kathy Tobin, news director, WGGB-TV, Springfield, MA
  • 1997: John A. Hannah, president/CEO, Hannah Consulting Group
  • 1996: Dr. Lowell C. Smith, president of Nichols College
  • 1995: no speaker
  • 1994: Robert E. Slattery, chairman and CEO of Rockport Co., Inc.
  • 1993: J. Patrick Rooney, CEO of Golden Rule Insurance Co., Ill.
  • 1992: John M. Nelson, CEO, Wyman-Gordon, Co.
  • 1991: Frank Shakespeare, former president of CBS Television, former U.S. ambassador to Portugal and to the Holy See
  • 1990: Richard B. Hardy, president of Hyde Manufacturing Co.
  • 1989: Fred Friendly, former president of CBS News (and former Nichols College student)
  • 1988: Robert L. Pfaltzgraff Jr., president of the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, Inc., Cambridge, Mass.
  • 1987: Dr. William P. Haas, former president of Providence College
  • 1986: Richard John Neuhaus, director of the Center on Religion and Society, New York City
  • 1985: George P. Winston, professor at Nichols College, president of American Studies Association of the Middle Atlantic States and of Chester Art Guild
  • 1984: Dr. Lowell C. Smith, president of Nichols College
  • 1983: Richard Arkwright Snelling, governor of Vermont
  • 1982: Dr. Lowell C. Smith, president of Nichols College
  • 1981: Edwin J. Feulner Jr., president of the Heritage Foundation
  • 1980: W. Douglas Bell, chief of the board and CEO, State Mutual Life Assurance Co. of America.
  • 1979: Glenn A. Hastings, president and chief of administration, American Optical Corp.
  • 1978: Dr. Lowell C. Smith, president of Nichols College
  • 1977: James F. Calvert, vice president, Operation Combustion Engineering, Inc.
  • 1976: Edwin F. Lau, president of American Optical Corporation’s Optical Product Division
  • 1975: James B. Longley, governor of Maine
  • 1974: Sonya Hamlin, WBZ-TV, Boston
  • 1973: Dr. Darcy C. Coyle, president of Nichols College
  • 1972: Henry D. Sharpe Jr., of Brown and Sharpe Manufacturing Co.
  • 1971: Robert C. Hill, United States ambassador to Spain
  • 1970: James W. Guimond, Nichols College professor and director of guidance
  • 1969: Dr. John White, president of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art


Lorraine U. Martinelle is director of public relations and social media at Nichols College in Dudley, Mass. Email your story ideas to Lorraine.Martinelle@nichols.edu.

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