Commencement ceremonies at Lawrence University have changed in the years since the first ceremony was held in 1857. In early decades, ceremonies featured orations and performances by members of the graduating class. A guest was first invited to deliver an address in 1894. Between this time and about 1980, these addresses were delivered by prominent clergy, presidents of the college, faculty members, or other invited guests. Since about 1980, Commencement addresses have usually been delivered by one or more of that year's honorary degree recipients.
1894 - Rev. C. B. Wilcox
1899 - Bishop Samuel Fallows
1904 - Bishop Samuel Fallows
1905 - The Rev. Thomas E. Greene
1906 - The Rev. George Elliott
1907 - The Rev. William A. Quayle
1908 - The Rev. Camden M. Cobern, Litt.D.
1909 - The Rev. Richard Wilkinson
1910 - The Rev. S. Parks Cadman
1911 - The Rev. Frank Gunsaulus
1912 - The Rev. E. Y. Mullins
1913 - The Rev. Solon Bronson
1914 - The Rev. Archey Decatur Ball
1917 - The Rev. Frank Gunsaulus
1918 - Dean Edwin Herbert Lewis
1919 - The Rev. Harold Hough
1920 - The Rev. Merton Rice
1921 - The Rev. Ernest F. Tittle
1924 - The Rev. Charles W. Gilley
1925 - Charles Clayton Morrison
1929 - The Rev. Francis John McConnell
1930 - Wilfred B. Shaw
1931 - Marvin B. Rosenberry
1932 - The Rev. Charles W. Gilley
1933 - The Rev. Ernest F. Tittle
1934 - Douglas Horton
1935 - Guy S. Ford
1936 - Albert Britt, LL.D.
1937 - Anton Julius Carlson, LL.D.
1938 - Gordon J. Laing
1939 - George Clarke Sellery
1940 - Max Carl Otto
1941 - Ralph Washington Sackman
1944, February - Robert Nelson Spencer
1944, October - John Whitter Darr
1945 - Stanley Pargellis, LL.D.
1946 - Carl Frederick Wittke, LL.D.
1947 - Gordon Rufus Clapp, LL.D. [Lawrence College Class of 1927, trustee]
1948 - Theodore Christian Blegen
1949 - Harry Fletcher Lewis
1950 - Daniel S. Defenbacher, D.F.A.
1951 - Charles Edwin Odegaard, L.H.D.
1952 - Payson Sibley Wild, Jr., LL.D. [Trustee, 1956-1963]
1953 - Conrad Arnold Elvehjem
1954 - John Schoff Millis, LL.D.
1955 - Paul Judson Braisted, L.H.D.
1959 - Ben W. Heineman, LL.D.
1960 - Richard P. Wilbur, L.H.D.
1964 - Howard Nemerov, L.H.D.
1965 - Warren P. Knowles
1967 - Otis A. Singletary
1972 - Nancy Dickerson
1975 - Norman Cousins
1976 - N. Scott Momaday
1977 - Martin E. Marty
1978 - James V. Cunningham
1979 - Robert Woodward
1980 - Senator William Proxmire
1981 - William Kunstler
1982 - Martha Henry, D.F.A.; Francis Hugh Ruddle, D.Sc.
1983 - Mary Edmonds, D.Sc. [Milwaukee-Downer Class of 1943]; Andrew Knight, LL.D.; George H. Weyerhaeuser, LL.D.
1984 - Natalie Zemon Davis, L.H.D.; Nenah E. Fry, LL.D. [Lawrence College Class of 1955]; David Campbell Mulford, LL.D. [Lawrence College Class of 1959, trustee]
1985 - Donald Ervin Knuth, D.Sc.; Michael C. J. Putnam, LL.D.
1986 - Edwin Richard Bayley, LL.D. [Lawrence College Class of 1940]; John Wilson Lewis, LL.D.; Gus A. Zuehlke, LL.D.
1987 - Dimitri Hadzi, D.F.A.; Sheila Evans Widnall, D.Sc.
1988 - Joseph Charles Kennedy, L.H.D.; Thomas Dominic Nicholson, D.Sc.
1989 - Dale Eldred, D.F.A.; Omar Shakespeare Pound, L.H.D.
1990 - Maynard Mack, L.H.D.; Patricia K. Ritter, LL.D.; Janos Starker, D.F.A.
1991 - David S. Broder, LL.D.; Eugene M. Lang, LL.D.; Robert C. Marcellus, D.F.A.
1992 - George F. Keane, LL.D.; Anne Hazard Richardson, LL.D.; Janet Dempsey Steiger, LL.D. [Lawrence College Class of 1961]
1993 - James P. Comer, LL.D.; Ardis Krainik, D.F.A.
1994 - Jacqueline K. Barton, D.Sc.; Dale L. Duesing, D.F.A. 1994 [Lawrence University Class of 1967]
1995 - Gwendolyn Brooks, Litt.D.; Richard W. Dodson, D.Sc.; Miriam Schapiro, D.F.A.
1996 - The Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Jr., L.H.D. [Scarff Professor 1995-96]; Lynn Martin, LL.D.; Robert A. Seiple, LL.D.
1997 - Douglas J. Bennet, Jr., LL.D.; Charles Breunig, L.H.D. [Professor Emeritus of History]; Henry Louis Gates Jr., L.H.D. [Trustee]; H. Nicholas Muller III, L.H.D.; Sister Joel Reed, L.H.D.
1998 - The Hon. Shirley S. Abrahamson, LL.D.; Richard Holbrooke, LL.D.; Henry M. R. E. Mayr-Harting, L.H.D.
1999 - James H. Billington, L.H.D.; Alfred W. Lerdahl, D.F.A. [Lawrence University Class of 1965]; Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Litt.D.
2000 - Shirlee Emmons, D.F.A. [Lawrence College Class of 1944]; Lorrie Moore, Litt.D.
2001 - Theodore L. Steck, D.Sc. [Lawrence College Class of 1960]; His Grace Bishop Kallistos Ware, L.H.D.
2002 - Chen Yi, D.F.A.; Roy Lukes, D.Sc.
2003 - Oscar C. Boldt, LL.D.; Patricia Hamar Boldt, LL.D. [Lawrence College Class of 1948]; Bruce H. Iglauer, D.Mus. [Lawrence University Class of 1969]; Edmund S. Morgan, L.H.D.
2004 - John S. Carroll, LL.D.; Jonathan F. Fanton, LL.D.; Stanley Fish, L.H.D.; Samantha Power, L.H.D
2005 - John C. Harmon II, D.F.A. [Lawrence College Class of 1957]; Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., LL.D. [Trustee]; Richard Warch, L.H.D. [President of Lawrence University, 1979-2004]
2006 - Richard Franke, L.H.D.; Catherine Tatge, D.F.A. [Lawrence University Class of 1972]
2007 - Louis Butler, L.H.D. [Lawrence University Class of 1973]; Margaret Carroll Ed. D. [Lawrence University Class of 1961]
2008 - Barbara Lawton, LL.D. [Lawrence University Class of 1987]; Alanna Heiss, L.H.D. [Lawrence University Class of 1966]
2009 - Bob Herbert, L.H.D.
2010 - Thomas Arthur Steitz [Lawrence College Class of 1962]
2011 - Russ Feingold, L.H.D.
2012 - Anton Valukas, LL.D. [Lawrence University Class of 1965]
2013 - Martha Nussbaum, L.H.D.
2014 - Charles Gibson, L.H.D.
2015 - John R. Lewis, L.H.D.
2016 - Lan Samantha Chang, L.H.D.
2017 - Gil Loescher, L.H.D.