Nate Silver to Deliver Commencement Address

Nate SilverRipon College announced that writer and statistician Nate Silver of The New York Times will receive an honorary degree and serve as the commencement speaker at Ripon College’s one hundred forty-seventh graduation exercises, on May 12, 2013, at 1:30 p.m. Silver will address the theme of “data and decision making” in his speech.

Ripon College made The Washington Post’s list of Biggest Commencement Speakers of 2013 at number 8.

Dubbed a “spreadsheet psychic” and “wunderkind stat guy,” Silver became a breakout star of the 2008 presidential elections after his FiveThirtyEight blog correctly predicted the results of the primaries and the presidential winner in 49 states. The blog is now a feature of The New York Times and Silver writes frequently for the newspaper. Silver’s statistical analysis correctly predicted the outcome of the 2012 presidential campaign in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“Nate Silver has ushered in a new wave of political analysis with his use of statistics to pinpoint predictions in elections. He has been a leader in using mathematics to predict the future from politics to sports to even forecasting the winners of the Academy Awards,” said Ripon College President Dr. Zach Messitte. “We are excited that a speaker of Nate Silver’s caliber and prominence will address our 2013 graduates.”

Before focusing his predictive abilities and forecasting models on the game of politics and current events, Silver spent his time in the world of baseball statistics, where he developed a widely acclaimed system called PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm), which predicts player performance, career development, and seasonal winners and losers. He is also the author of a series of books on baseball statistics, which include: Mind Game, Baseball Between the Numbers, and It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over.

His newest book, The Signal and The Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail — But Some Don’t (Penguin, 2012), explores data-based predictions and how they underpin a growing sector of critical fields, from political polling and hurricane watches to the stock market and even the war on terror. Published last September, the book reached The New York Times Best Seller List for nonfiction and was named by Amazon.com as one of the best nonfiction books of 2012. Silver’s other accolades include being named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2009 and Rolling Stone’s 100 Agents of Change. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics.

Courtesy Eva Brams CC

Courtesy Eva Brams CC

Ripon College will also bestow an honorary degree on Dr. Steven Brams, a renowned game theorist and professor of political science at New York University (NYU). Brams analyzes voting systems and fair division and has applied game theory to a series of contemporary and historical situations from elections to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bible. His most recent book is Game Theory and the Humanities: Bridging Two Worlds (MIT Press, 2011). Brams earned his B.S. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Politics, Economics, and Science and his Ph.D. in Political Science from Northwestern University. Silver and Brams will speak together in a public forum on the issue of data and decisions on Sunday, May 12, at 10:00 a.m. on the Ripon College campus.

By tradition, a third honorary degree will be awarded to a distinguished educator at the K-12 level and will be nominated by a currently enrolled student.

Ripon College is a proud chapter member of Phi Beta Kappa, which recognizes the value of liberal arts education as the best preparation for professional success, responsible citizenship, and personal fulfillment. Fewer than 10 percent of all American colleges and universities have a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most widely recognized collegiate honor society.

For more information and updates on Ripon College’s one hundred forty-seventh graduation exercises, visit: ripon.edu/commencement2013.

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