Update: It’s happening!
For the second straight year, much to the chagrin of Villanova’s graduating class, the university will not be having a commencement speaker.
With the Class of 2022 set to graduate in a matter of weeks, seniors are hoping to offer their own solution which would fill the void and make everyone happy — have the recently-retired Jay Wright to speak at graduation.
A change.org petition started by Villanova senior Andrew Ceonzo, a political science and economics major, has picked up plenty of momentum. The petition for Wright to speak started on Wednesday around 12 noon and reached 1,000-plus signatures just seven hours later.
“While the excuses offered by the administration for not having a speaker—booking timing, COVID-19, finances—are all obviously post hoc rationalizations, there is a speaker who could quell all of their concerns: Jay Wright,” Ceonzo wrote on the petition. “Coach Wright has been an integral part of our four years of Villanova and a key part of our education. If any class has ever demonstrated ATTITUDE, it’s the class of 2022 and there truly is no one we would rather hear from than Coach Wright. Additionally, given Coach Wright’s retirement and the incredible run the basketball team had this year, this would be a perfect opportunity for both him and the class of 2022 to move onto our next chapters together.”
According to a report by The Villanovan, Fr. Peter explained the absence is because he wants the focus to remain on graduates, rather than the speaker.
“We do not have a commencement speaker, someone from the outside, simply because it really takes so long to get those people,” Fr. Peter told the on-campus student newspaper. “We didn’t really know what it was going to be like [with COVID], or how many restrictions there would be. “ ... Sometimes people look at it as who the person was and how famous the person was, and if the person was really famous they were excited. It was kind of bragging rights. The last two years though, it really hasn’t seemed to make a difference because I think the focus is on them. The focus in the last two years has really been on the graduates.”
And, of course, money talks.
“The thing is, we don’t pay them, and some of them are asking a pretty heavy fee to speak for a few minutes,” Fr. Peter added in his chat with The Villanovan. “[Some will ask] for $100,000, and we’re not paying that. We give them an honorary degree and think of that as payment. We pay for transportation and stuff.”
Jay Wright as commencement speaker? Makes a lot of sense!