Advance Notice: Briefs

Whitmer, Cousins to speak at MSU commencement

By: - March 26, 2019 10:22 am

Gretchen Whitmer (left) and Kirk Cousins (right)

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins will both speak at Michigan State University’s commencement ceremonies in May, the university announced this week.

Spartan Stadium, Michigan State University, Jan. 17, 2018 | Michael Gerstein

The two alumni, who have distinguished themselves in very different yet no less competitive fields, will both receive honorary doctorates at the May 3 ceremonies. Whitmer will speak to students receiving advanced degrees, while Cousins will speak at the undergraduate convocation.

Both received their bachelors’ degrees from the university, and Whitmer has previously taught courses there, as well as at the University of Michigan. Cousins served as the Spartans’ starting quarterback from 2009 to 2011.

MSU acting President Satish Udpa, who replaced former Gov. John Engler after pressure from the university’s board in the wake of his handling of the Dr. Larry Nassar scandal, said the university was “proud to welcome [them] home.”

“[Whitmer and Cousins] personify the cherished Spartan qualities of service and leadership in their respective fields,” Udpa said in a press release. “Both Gov. Whitmer and Kirk Cousins have earned national acknowledgment of those qualities and are sure to be inspirational speakers for our graduates.”

Whitmer also will speak at the University of Michigan’s May commencement, as is tradition for first-year governors. Her 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary opponent, Abdul El-Sayed, will address U of M’s medical school graduates.

On Twitter over the weekend, Whitmer channeled her inner Spartan in a challenge to Minnesota’s Democratic Gov. Tim Walz ahead of the NCAA tournament matchup between the Spartans and the University of Minnesota’s Golden Gophers.

The Spartans defeated the Golden Gophers on Saturday by 20 points. Whitmer’s office did not immediately respond to a question regarding whether Walz had accepted the bet.

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Derek Robertson
Derek Robertson

Derek Robertson is a former reporter for the Advance. Previously, he wrote for Politico Magazine in Washington. He is a Genesee County native and graduate of both Wayne State University, where he studied history, and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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