Announcing 2021 Commencement Speakers and Honorees

Dear Campus Community,

I am writing today, on the heels of the recent announcement regarding our plan for our Class of 2021 Commencement, to directly share exciting news about our Commencement speakers, honorary degree recipients, and Presidential Medal recipient.

I am thrilled that this year’s Commencement speaker will be Liz Tigelaar ’98, veteran television series producer and writer, who most recently was creator, showrunner and executive producer of the Hulu limited series “Little Fires Everywhere.” Liz is an extraordinary role model to so many of our students and breaks ground as a woman in her field, writing authentically and powerfully about the complexities of topics such as motherhood, race, and class in America. Last year, Liz also contributed thoughtfully to a special video celebrating our Class of 2020, alongside Bob Iger ’73, David Muir ’95, and New York Sen. Charles Schumer.  

I am particularly proud to share with this community that this year’s student speaker will be Ali Kelley ’21, a business administration major with a concentration in management. In a departure from past years, this year’s student Commencement speaker was selected by a committee of students in the Class of 2021, and the powerful words of the class president resonated deeply with the committee. I look forward to hearing Ali’s inspiring speech. 

The college will recognize two powerhouse scholars and activists with honorary degrees this year: visionary economist Raj Chetty and groundbreaking theologian the Very Reverend Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas. These two scholar-activist leaders embody the values and the roots of our beloved Ithaca College.

Finally, Eileen Filler-Corn, a 1986 IC graduate who made history a year ago by becoming the first woman to serve as speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, will receive the Ithaca College Presidential Medal. Eileen’s fierce leadership represents the very best of IC.

I invite you to read more about our Commencement speakers and honorees.

The same creativity that is going into crafting this year’s ceremony is also being activated to bring the inspirational words of our speakers to the Class of 2021, and to honor the work of some very talented alumni and groundbreaking thinkers who uphold the values of Ithaca College. I am looking forward to celebrating with our graduates on May 23 and celebrating the strength of our community.

All my best,

Shirley M. Collado