Commencement Speaker 2023

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson headshot, courtesy of PenWorld MagazineDr. Neil deGrasse Tyson
Astrophysicist & Frederick P. Rose Director, Hayden Planetarium and Research Associate, Department of Astrophysics, American Museum of Natural History

Neil deGrasse Tyson was born and raised in New York City, where he was educated in the public schools through graduation from the Bronx High School of Science. He earned his BA in Physics from Harvard and his PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia.

President Bush appointed Tyson to serve on two commissions: one that studied the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry in 2001, and one on the Implementation of the U.S. Space Exploration Policy in 2004. In 2006, NASA appointed Tyson to serve on its prestigious Advisory Council, which guides NASA through its perennial need to fit ambitious visions into restricted budgets.

For five seasons, beginning in fall 2006, Tyson appeared as host of PBS NOVA’s spinoff program NOVA ScienceNOW, an accessible look at the frontier of all the science that shapes the understanding of our place in the universe. During summer 2009, Tyson identified a cadre of professional standup comedians to assist him in bringing science to commercial radio with the NSF-funded pilot program StarTalk. Now also a popular podcast, for three years it enjoyed a limited-run television series on the National Geographic Channel, targeting those who never thought they would, or could, like science.

Tyson served as Executive Science Editor and on-camera Host & Narrator for Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey, the 21st century continuation of Carl Sagan’s landmark television series. The show began in March 2014 and won four Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, two Critics Choice awards, as well as a dozen other industry recognitions. Tyson reprised his role as on-camera host for the next season of Cosmos—Cosmos: Possible Worlds, which premiered on the National Geographic Channel in March 2020 and on the FOX network in September 2020.

Tyson is the fifth head of the world-renowned Hayden Planetarium in New York City and the first occupant of its Frederick P. Rose Directorship. He is also a research associate of the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. In addition to dozens of professional publications, Dr. Tyson has authored fifteen books, including his latest, Starry Messenger: Cosmic Perspectives on Civilization. He is the recipient of twenty-one honorary doctorates and the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest award given by NASA to a non-government citizen.

Dr. Tyson lives in New York City with his wife.

Photo Credit: Cutty McGill, Penworld Magazine

Baccalaureate Speaker 2023

Matt Tuggle headshotMatthew A. Tuggle ’03
Executive Minister, Highland Park United Methodist Church

Matt Tuggle is a 2003 graduate of Hampden-Sydney where he majored in Biology and Religion. After graduation, Matt lived in Richmond and worked in special education for three years, before moving to Dallas, Texas to pursue a Masters of Divinity degree at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.

Matt was subsequently ordained in the United Methodist Church and currently serves as an Executive Minister at Highland Park United Methodist Church, a large congregation in Dallas, where he also leads the church’s contemporary worship community. Matt is a gifted teacher, preacher, and leader.

Matt is married to Amy and they have three children:  Boyd, Charlie, and Mary Frances. Matt spends most of his time with his family or congregation, but also enjoys a variety of outdoor activities and reading.