Our 2024 Commencement Speaker

Dear Tulane Community:

I am thrilled to announce that our 2024 Commencement Speaker will be Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Jon Meacham, one of America's most well-known and widely respected public intellectuals. He will deliver the keynote address at the Unified Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 18 at 6:30 p.m. in Yulman Stadium.

Jon is a highly sought-after commentator and a frequent guest on national news programs. He established himself as one of the country's foremost presidential historians with bestselling works on Franklin Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson, as well as a biography of Andrew Jackson that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009. In recent years he has published New York Times bestsellers on Abraham Lincoln, George H.W. Bush, and the late congressman and civil rights icon (and honorary Tulane degree recipient) John Lewis.

With humanity and humor, Jon provides insightful context for the current historical moment by drawing on his deep knowledge across fields including history, politics, religion and current events. His interdisciplinary approach aligns perfectly with Tulane's commitment to breaking down the traditional boundaries between disciplines to foster innovation and creativity. This approach is perhaps best highlighted by his recent bestseller Songs of America, co-written with musician Tim McGraw, which explores the music that has shaped and defined our nation – from "The Star-Spangled Banner" to "We Shall Overcome."

Jon's work has earned him recognition as a "Global Leader for Tomorrow" from the World Economic Forum, as well as membership in the Council on Foreign Relations and the Society of American Historians. He is also a contributing editor at TIME as well as the former editor of Newsweek. He has hosted two critically acclaimed podcasts with the History Channel. As a marquee speaker at the New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University in 2022 and 2023, he helped to establish the festival as an international destination for thought leaders, authors and book lovers.

In his 2023 Book Fest conversation with renowned journalist and historian Evan Thomas, Jon spoke eloquently about the importance of bridging the political divide, noting that "if we don't give as well as take, democracy doesn't work, and so we have to see each other as neighbors." He models civil discourse as the Canon Historian of Washington National Cathedral and as a distinguished visiting professor at Vanderbilt University, where he holds the Rogers Chair in the American Presidency and co-chairs the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy.

During their time at Tulane, our students learn first-hand the power of bringing together different perspectives as we approach the critical issues of the day. With his focus on fostering informed dialogue across difference, Jon will inspire our graduates to carry these lessons forward into their work – whether they're architects, artists, entrepreneurs or researchers. I look forward to celebrating the Class of 2024 with the wise and witty words of one of the great thinkers of our time.