Brown is unique among Ivy League institutions in featuring graduating seniors, rather than outside dignitaries, as Commencement speakers. The nomination period is typically the first two weeks of December. Candidates may be nominated by faculty, deans or other seniors, and self-nominations are permitted. Nominees are notified during winter break and asked to submit an excerpt of their proposed speeches in February. Nominees are strongly encouraged to solicit feedback from faculty, Writing Center staff and others before submitting their applications. A committee comprised of faculty, seniors and the associate dean for upperclass studies conducts a name-blind review of all submissions and selects eight to ten finalists. Finalists are asked to draft a complete version of their speeches and to deliver them before the committee in April. The committee then selects the two students who will serve as Commencement orators.
The 2019 Senior orators are Ruth Miller and Patricia Rodarte.