Jordan B. Peterson will address the class of 2022 at the spring commencement ceremony.
“He teaches things that are just right for the grand ceremony he will address,” Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn said.
A public intellectual with a wide following on social media, Peterson is a clinical psychologist, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, and the author of three books, including the bestseller “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.”
“Jordan Peterson’s deep knowledge of his field leads him to insights into things that seem far afield but are not,” Arnn said. “How we grow up cannot be separated from the purposes for which we grow up. Our internal condition and our work in the world are sides of a coin.”
Provost Chris VanOrman, who announced the news in an email to faculty, students, and staff on Tuesday, said the college looks forward to hosting Peterson in May.
“Dr. Jordan Peterson’s name has been put forward for many years by both students and faculty,” VanOrman said. “There is a tremendous amount of interest in Dr. Peterson’s ideas on our campus and I suspect that this will only increase. We are excited to bring him to campus for this important event in the life of the college.”
Senior Class President Jacob Hooper said Peterson will provide Hillsdale seniors with “an inspirational, entertaining, and wise message that will resonate with students.”
“Not only is Peterson an internationally-known figure, but he understands what makes Hillsdale an excellent institution,” he said. “I think he will speak to the virtues espoused by the core curriculum, which is essential in a message that will send off my class into the professional world.”
Peterson became widely known after he refused to comply with a Canadian law that made refusal to refer to an individual by their preferred pronouns a form of harassment.
“I don’t recognize another person’s right to determine what pronouns I use to address them,” Peterson said. “I think they’re connected to an underground apparatus of radical left political motivations. I think uttering those words makes me a tool of those motivations. And I’m going to try and be a tool of my own motivations as clearly as I can articulate them and not the mouthpiece of some murderous ideology.”
Senior Natalie Kent said she started watching Peterson’s lectures on YouTube as a sophomore in high school. She said she was drawn to Peterson’s “emphasis on personal responsibility.”
“Since then, I’ve long hoped that he would make it to Hillsdale, as his podcasts so often remind me of my own classes,” Kent said. “I can’t thank Hillsdale enough for inviting Dr. Peterson to campus and look forward to seeing him (and shaking his hand) as my peers and I cross the stage during commencement!”
Senior Andy Walker said Peterson is one of his heroes and his top choice for commencement speaker.
“12 Rules for Life was quite literally a life-changing book for me and it’s a dream come true that one of the men who was influential in shaping me into who I am today can come to campus,” Walker said. “I love how the second most unifying force on campus right now, after hating Saga, is excitement over having Jordan Peterson as the commencement speaker.”
Senior Brennan Nokelby said he is thankful for the opportunity to hear Peterson.
“I have listened to hours of his podcasts, lectures, and interviews. It feels poetic that a person who has helped me learn so much is helping cap off my four years at Hillsdale,” he said. “We are very blessed here at Hillsdale.”