University News

Denison announces 2024 Commencement keynote speaker

January 14, 2024

Philip A. Glotzbach, Skidmore College president emeritus, will deliver the keynote address at Denison University’s 183rd Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 11.

As Skidmore’s president for 17 years, from 2003 to 2020, Glotzbach led efforts that invigorated the college’s liberal arts education through new academic programs, student apartments, and buildings for arts and sciences — including a new music center and the Center for Integrated Sciences, the largest single academic building project in Skidmore’s history. Glotzbach is the author of a forthcoming book, Embrace Your Freedom: Winning Strategies to Succeed in College and In Life, a primer for college students to gain the most from their educational experience, and for parents to support them in doing so.

His keynote — which he promises will be a brief take on a much larger topic — is titled: “Don’t give up on democracy.”

“Many young people today are expressing serious doubts about democracy. Though their frustration is understandable, we just don’t have the luxury of turning our back on politics or sitting out elections,” Glotzbach says. “All of us need to value our citizenship and accept our crucial role in determining our collective future.”

Glotzbach’s commencement keynote is an opportunity for him to return to The Hill, where he taught philosophy for 15 years. He helped launch the summer Greek studies program and was integral in creating the philosophy, politics, and economics major, which he says was inspired by a similar program at Oxford University. He also (occasionally) played guitar and sang folk music with emeritus theatre professor Jon Farris.

After Denison, Glotzbach served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and later vice president for Academic Affairs at the University of Redlands in Redlands, Calif. He earned his B.A. in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and his M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in philosophy at Yale University. He has received honorary degrees from Centre College and Skidmore College. 

At Denison’s ceremony, Glotzbach will be recognized with the conferring of an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

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