In characteristically late fashion, the University announced today who will be giving Georgetown’s 2013 commencement addresses. Each school has a separate speaker and the list includes several scholars, journalists, high-ranking government officials, and a sitting head of state.
The School of Foreign Service’s commencement speaker will be President Dalia Grybauskaitė of Lithuania. She was inaugurated as the first female president of the Balkan Baltic state in 2009. She’s known as the “Iron Lady” (of Lithuania) and is credited with pulling the country out of its economic crisis after 2008, doing so without taking financial aid from the International Monetary Fund. “I never really had this goal—to become president,” she said. “I saw Lithuania sliding deeply into crisis, and I wanted to help the government get our country out of those troubles.” She also holds a black belt in karate.
The School of Nursing and Health Studies gets Dr. Lisa Simpson (not to be confused with the Simpson’s television character), the president and CEO of AcademyHealth, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research institution dedicated to advancing the field of health services research. According to her bio page, “Dr. Simpson has worked to raise the visibility of the field of health services research and its contributions to improving the quality, value and accessibility of care, reducing disparities, and improving health.” (All Vox got from that was that she likes health.)
The commencement speaker for the McDonough School of Business will be Senator William Cowan, Democrat from Massachusetts. He was appointed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to fill the seat that John Kerry vacated when he became secretary of state. A prominent lawyer in Massachusetts, he served as Patrick’s chief legal counsel for two years from January 2011 to November 2012.
Finally, Georgetown College’s speaker will be Lisa Shannon, the founder of Run for Congo Women and the Thousand Sisters Campaign. According to her bio page, she was the “first national grassroots activist in the United States working to raise awareness of the forgotten humanitarian crisis in Democratic Republic of the Congo.” Run for Congo Women has sponsored over 1,400 war-affected women from the Congo and raised over $12 million.
Needless to say, this year’s crop of graduation speakers is bound to be less controversial than last year’saffair.
See the rest of the commencement speakers after the jump.
As the University recently announced, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will be speaking at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute Tropaia awards ceremony next Friday. Although the awards event is not technically a “commencement” ceremony (since degrees will not be conferred), Sebelius was listed with the other commencement speakers in the University press-release. Sebelius is a staunch pro-choice advocate and championed reproductive rights issues in her term as governor of Kansas and, later, as HHS Secretary.
Prominent Catholics and conservative Catholic groups immediately criticized the University for its choice in Sebelius for graduation speaker. The Cardinal Newman Society has called the move a “direct challenge” to America’s Catholic bishops, and has created a website with a petition calling for Georgetown to revoke its invitation to the former governor. The petition has reportedly gathered 12,500 signatures.
One of the harshest challenges came from Princeton University’s Robert George, a man the New York Timescalled the United States’s “most influential conservative Christian thinker.” This past Sunday, on the Catholic Mirror of Justiceblog, he wrote:
The left-liberals who run the show at Georgetown have found a way to signal to the world that the nation’s oldest Catholic, and most famous Jesuit, university stands with the Obama administration in its war (to use, if I recall correctly, Kathleen Sebelius’s own word) against the Catholic bishops and others who oppose the HHS mandate as a violation of religious freedom and the rights of conscience (you know, the enemies of women’s “reproductive health”). By honoring Secretary Sebelius, they can help to undermine the bishops’ credibility and blunt the force of their witness as leaders of the Catholic church.
Last week, Georgetown announced the commencement speakers for the 2011 graduates of its various programs, with reactions falling across the spectrum from happy to tepid to irate. For those of you looking to procrastinate on finals studying for a few more minutes, feel free to take a glance at who will be speaking to seniors at some other DC colleges.
As we previously mentioned in December, George Washington University’s slate of graduation speakers will be headlined by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will address the whole of the graduating class. Other speakers will include NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, former Treasury Secretary John Snow, and Operation Smile co-founder Dr. William Magee.
After the jump, see more speakers at DC universities.
Last Friday, George Washington University President Steven Knappannounced that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will give the GW’s commencement speech this coming May. Last year, First Lady Michelle Obama gave GW’s commencement speech.
“Sounds like GW got a terrific speaker,” Julie Green Bataille, associate vice president for communications, admitted in an e-mail.
If history is a precedent, Georgetown is unlikely to announce its commencement speaker for several more months. Last year, Georgetown didn’t officially release its list of speakers until late April.
Although Meghan Hogge, director of academic events, declined to comment on GW’s pick and the status of Georgetown’s own selection process, all signs suggest that this year’s announcement will have to wait until next semester.
“Georgetown will have individual commencement speakers for each ceremony and I do not anticipate having a final list until much closer to our actual commencement dates,” Bataille wrote.
At last May’s commencement ceremonies, the nine speakers—one for each school and one for the ROTC commissioning ceremony—included Dikembe Mutombo (SLL ’91) and Bob Schieffer.
Dikembe Mutombo, the NBA legend and ’91 Georgetown alum, will speak at the Georgetown College’s ceremony. “Mutombo … played 18 seasons in the NBA and has long made it a priority to improve the health, education and quality of life for the people his native Congo. In 1997, he founded the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, dedicated to improving the health, education and quality of life for people in the Republic.”
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of the Republic of Liberia will be the speaker for School of Foreign Service Students. “Upon her election in 2005 she became Africa’s first female president …. Sirleaf is now entrusted with the challenging task of rebuilding a post-conflict nation. She continues to work toward reviving national hope and restoring Liberia’s international reputation and credibility.”
Shelia C. Johnson, the CEO of Salamander Hospitality and co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, will speak before graduating McDonough School of Business students. Johnson also has ownership in the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals.
Dr. David Molyneux will speak before the School of Nursing and Health Studies. “Molyneux is renowned throughout the world for his steadfast service in championing the vulnerable, curing the afflicted and leading the fight against neglected tropical diseases …. [He] gained firsthand experience at the Nigerian Institute of Trypanosomiasis Research in the early 1970s, at a time when little attention was focused on the diseases that persist among the poorest and most vulnerable.”
Check out speakers for ROTC and Georgetown’s other schools after the jump!
This April for the second year in a row, the Georgetown University LGBTQ Center will hold Lavender Graduation, a ceremony for LGBTQ students and this year, for LGBT alumni. This year’s commencement speaker is Kara Swisher (SFS ’84), a writer and the co-executive editor for the Dow Jones blogAll Things Digital. Vox caught up with Swisher to talk about her time at Georgetown, what she wants to tell Georgetown students, and “sneaky gays.”
When I spoke to [LGBTQ Center Director] Shiva Subbaraman, she said she had some trouble convincing you to speak at Georgetown. Was that related to your time here?
You know, I had a good academic time at Georgetown. I had some really terrific teachers and being in Washington was great. But on a whole lot of issues surrounding gays at the time, a lot of things really disgusted me. There was a group that wanted to organize to support gay students, and the school wouldn’t let them, and they sued, and the school went all legal crazy on them, and a huge legal battle ensued.
It was pretty appalling that the school used so many resources in a legal battle against its own students. And there was a counter-group called the Straight Students of Georgetown who mocked them …. The whole tenor surrounding gay issues at the time was very neanderthal, and so not in keeping with the tolerance that an institute of higher learning should show.
So what ultimately convinced you to speak here?
A lot of the gay activity, it’s so different now. When I went there, there was so much furtive gayness going on so it was just so hypocritical for the University to act like there were no gay Catholics that needed their support. I was so surprised that they have so much stuff going on for gay students. It’s something that happened to a lot of other schools a while ago, but for it to happen at Georgetown is still very surprising.
I was surprised to glad see that at the minimum, Georgetown said, we’re not condoning these negative viewpoints about gays. I was pretty to see that they have an [LGBTQ Center], and a center director.
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Haven’t quite got your fill of all things commencement-related? Here’s what Vox recommends:
If you’re looking for complete coverage of Georgetown’s commencement weekend, check out the blog the University set up, which features write-ups of every ceremony. (Somewhat dry, PR-y write-ups, but still, pretty nice).
You can also check out the webcasts of the MSB, SFS and College ceremonies.
Curious about other commencement speeches? The Post has some interesting excerpts from a few local addresses (including Chuck Hagel’s). This year’s major theme? Yes, the economy’s all screwed up, but just think of that as a blessing in disguise! Here are some of the highlights:
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly speaking at Catholic University: “I have never made a career decision based on money, and I have never regretted it. Simply put, money is overrated.”
AOL co-founder Steve Case speaking at George Mason: “So while I recognize some of you may have anxiety about your futures, I am reasonably confident that this period could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you, as it may very well force you out of your comfort zone and lead you to consider challenges and opportunities in other fields, and perhaps in other countries. . . .”
Maryland State Senator C. Anthony Muse (D—Prince George’s County) speaking at Bowie State University: “Listen: No matter how tough your challenges may be in life, keep coming back. . . . You can make it.”
Graduates may not be on board with the whole “silver lining” approach to the sucky economy, though. Also in today’s Post: “Diploma in Hand, Job Out of Reach: Rough Economy Fills Many in the Class of ’09 With Anxiety, Not Excitement”
Finally, and most importantly, a big congratulations to the Class of 2009!
College seniors were probably feeling pretty special when they found out last week that their commencement speaker was going to be “News Hour with Jim Lehrer” star and vice presidential debate moderator Gwen Ifill. Well, fishbowlDC just released a list of where prominent D.C. journalists are delivering commencement addresses and it turns out Ifill will be headlining no fewer than four commencement ceremonies, including Howard University’s and Marymount University’s.
To a certain extent, doubling-up is common among commencement speakers (hey, if you’ve got a speech written, what’s the harm in delivering it to a few thousand more fresh-faced 22 year-olds?), but quadrupling up? And hitting up three schools in the same metropolitan area? That’s pushing it.
When you add to that the fact that the School of Foreign Service speaker, former Senator Chuck Hagel, is going to be a Georgetown professor next year and that the McDonough School of Business speaker, Luis Alberto Moreno, has a daughter attending Georgetown, it makes you feel like perhaps the University didn’t put that much effort into choosing its speakers this year…