David Byrne to give Bard commencement address

David Byrne (provided)

Bard College will hold its 160th commencement on Saturday, May 23. A total of 445 undergraduate and 163 graduate degrees will be conferred.

The commencement address will be given by musician David Byrne, who will receive an honorary doctorate of fine arts. Honorary degrees will also be awarded to multimedia artist Laurie Anderson, physicist and former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, composer Gao Xiaosong, curator Thelma Golden, Brooklyn Public Library President Linda E. Johnson, educational historian Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, and biophysicist George D. Rose ’63.

Other events that weekend include class reunions; a concert by Bard student soloists and composers with The Orchestra Now; and the granting of Bard College awards for 2020.


Byrne is best known as the leader of The Talking Heads. His recent works include the Broadway debut of David Byrne’s American Utopia (2019); launch of Reasons to be Cheerful—an online magazine focused on solutions-oriented stories about problems being solved all over the world (2019); the solo album American Utopia (2018), which was nominated for Best Alternative Album at the 61st Grammy Awards; and Joan of Arc: Into the Fire, a theatrical exploration of the historical heroine, which premiered at The Public Theater in New York (2017).

The program begins at 2:30 p.m. in the commencement tent on the Seth Goldfine Memorial Rugby Field.