Jason Winer

Commencement speakers strive to inspire, entertain

Expectations are high for this year's commencement speakers at Maryland universities — an august crew that includes the Obamas and their team of writers as well as funnyman Bill Cosby and Hollywood director Jason Winer.

But to stand out — or simply be remembered — isn't a guarantee, no matter how high the profile of the speaker.

"The commencement speaker has to perform. He or she has the responsibility to inspire both students and graduates to make something of their lives" without falling back on cliches, said Steven D. Cohen, managing director of the oral communication program at the University of Maryland. "No one wants a speaker who's boring, who drones on...