March 30, 2023

Goucher College Announces Anna Deavere Smith as 2023 Commencement Speaker

Philanthropist Adrienne Arsht to receive honorary degree

Playwright, actor, educator, and Baltimore native Anna Deavere Smith will deliver the keynote address at Goucher College’s Class of 2023 Commencement ceremony. In addition, Adrienne Arsht, business leader and impact philanthropist, will receive an honorary degree. Goucher’s 132nd Commencement ceremony will take place on Thursday, May 25, 2023, at 10:30 a.m. on the Margaret M. Winslow Great Lawn. 

Smith uses her singular brand of theater to explore issues of community, character, and diversity in America. The MacArthur Foundation honored Smith with the “Genius” Fellowship, and she is also the recipient of the 2012 National Humanities Medal; the 2015 Jefferson Lecturer honor; a Guggenheim Fellowship; and the George Polk Career Award for authentic journalism. Smith also starred in television’s The West Wing, Nurse Jackie, and Inventing Anna. Additionally, Time magazine named her play Notes From the Field one of the Top 10 Plays of the year. That project explored the intersection of education and incarceration in America, and for background research, Smith interviewed students from the Goucher Prison Education Partnership. 

“Goucher College has a long history of foregrounding exceptional women, and this year’s keynote speaker and honorary degree recipient certainly continue that legacy,” says Goucher College President Kent Devereaux. “We are very proud of the remarkable accomplishments of Goucher’s Class of 2023, whose future promise is a testament to their hard work and resilience and the strength of the liberal arts education for which Goucher is known.”

As a philanthropist, Arsht has taken a leading role in promoting artistic, business, and civic growth. She has made notable impact gifts to the Smithsonian Institution, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center, and Miami’s Performing Arts Center, amongst others. She received the Carnegie Hall Medal of Excellence, recognizing her visionary and exceptional contributions to cultural and nonprofit institutions nationally, and received an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

At Goucher, Arsht helped to establish the Arsht Presidential Diplomats, a distinguished group of student leaders chosen to represent Goucher at various meetings with community, governmental, and business leaders. As part of the Roxana Cannon Arsht ’35 Center for Ethics and Leadership, these undergraduate and graduate student leaders represent the various constituencies within Goucher’s diverse student population. The Roxana Cannon Arsht ’35 Center for Ethics and Leadership at Goucher College is funded by a $2 million gift from Adrienne Arsht in honor of her mother.

For more information visit Goucher’s Class of 2023 Commencement ceremony page.