Commencement Speakers

Student Speakers

Each ceremony includes an address by a graduating student. If you would like to be considered as a student speaker, review the Featured Students information.

Keynote Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients

Each ceremony also includes a keynote address by a distinguished speaker who receives an honorary degree from American University. Remarks from past commencement speakers are available in our Highlights archive.

Fall 2019

Michael Nutter


Michael Nutter Former Mayor, City of Philadelphia

Michael A. Nutter is the inaugural David N. Dinkins Professor of Professional Practice in Urban and Public Affairs at Columbia University.

After serving almost 15 years on the Philadelphia City Council, Nutter was elected the 98th mayor of his hometown in November 2007 and took office in January 2008. At his inaugural address, Mayor Nutter pledged to lower crime, improve educational attainment rates, make Philadelphia the greenest city in America, and attract new businesses and residents to the city. He also promised to lead an ethical and transparent government focused on providing high quality, efficient and effective customer service.

During his tenure as mayor, Nutter served as president of the United States Conference of Mayors and president of the Pennsylvania Municipal League. He was also named Public Official of the Year by Governing magazine.

Since leaving office, Nutter has continued his commitment to public service and civic engagement. In addition to providing political commentary for CNN, he serves as a senior advisor for Dentons, InState Partners, the Atlas Marketplace, Cities United, Clover Health, the Governance Project, and Green Diamond Solutions. Nutter sits on the boards of the Heartland Alliance, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Council on Criminal Justice, and the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation. He is a member of the external advisory council of JPMorgan Chase’s AdvancingCities and the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Nutter has also served as a fellow for What Works Cities, a program of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, and the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School. He is a venture partner with Ridge-Lane Limited Partners.

Mayor Nutter maintains active involvement in critical areas of education, media, public policy, political campaigns, the corporate community, and academic institutions across the country. He is a life-long Philadelphian, born and raised in West Philadelphia and educated at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.