Do you need an independent celebrity speaker at your college graduation? If the person has a connection to the school or the people in it, and will do it for nothing then it's a good idea. With all due respect, speeches are not as meaningful when they are given by a big name celebrity who travels the country doing the same prepared speech for any school, and was written a giant check to be there. 

Flickr user llee_wu

When Condeleezza Rice canceled her $35,000 commencement speech at Rutgers, my first choice to replace her was Eric LeGrand. It seemed like a natural since LeGrand, a defensive tackle who was paralyzed during a game in 2010, and had taken classes to graduate this year. It turns out LeGrand was actually asked to speak by Greg Jackson, chief of staff for Rutgers President Robert Barchi.

In what could be a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, President Barchi ended up getting former Governor Tom Kean to deliver the speech. LeGrand found out about this mishap by a phone call from A.D. Julie Hermann.

The next step would be to have LeGrand and Governor Kean make speeches, or to have the Governor politely step aside (I think Kean would have no problem doing this since he was bailing them out anyway.) In fact, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to either give the former football player the $35,000 they were going to give to Rice, or make give it as a donation to spinal cord research.

Do colleges need to be paying for commencement speakers, especially when taxpayers are footing the bill? If you’re a graduate, would you rather hear from someone who has a connection to your school, or a paid celebrity who’s going to deliver another speech at another school the next day?

Maybe you’d rather just get your degree, skip the ceremony, and get on with your life.

Who gave the commencement speech at your college? Did you take anything they said with you? Let us know by commenting below.