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Speakers Chosen for ’09 Commencement

By Adrienne Frank

Commencement cap

Updated April 21, 2009

Spanning the fields of finance, politics, history, human rights, and law, this year’s commencement speakers are as diverse as AU itself.

Susan Zirinsky, SOC/BA '74, will address School of Communication graduates. Executive producer of the CBS news magazine 48 Hours, Zirinsky was the White House producer for CBS for more than a decade, the senior producer for the Evening News with Dan Rather in Washington, and the first woman senior broadcast producer for the Evening News in New York.

Dubbed “one of the most powerful members of Congress” by the New York Times, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) will address graduates from the School of Public Affairs. A fierce proponent of civil rights issues, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights, Frank also serves as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

Lonnie Bunch, BA’74, MA’76, will address graduates of his alma mater, the College of Arts and Sciences. A renowned historian, Bunch is the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which will occupy the last available spot on the National Mall. Bunch is the former president of the Chicago Historical Society, one of the oldest history museums in the country.

Graduates of the Kogod School of Business will hear from Gary Cohn, Kogod/BSBA ’82, president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs. Cohn, who has held many positions at the global financial services firm, including co-head of equities and co-head of global securities businesses, also serves on AU’s Board of Trustees.

Cofounder of the Enough Project, which aims to end genocide and crimes against humanity across Africa, John Prendergast, SIS/MA ’90, will address graduates of the School of International Service. Prendergast has authored eight books on Africa, including Not on Our Watch, a New York Times bestseller and NAACP nonfiction book of the year, which he wrote with actor and activist Don Cheadle.

At the Washington College of Law, the address will be given by Seth Waxman, a partner at WilmerHale’s regulatory and government affairs and litigation-controversy departments. Considered among the country’s premier Supreme Court and appellate advocates, Waxman has delivered more than 50 oral argument in the nation’s highest court. He also served as U.S. solicitor general from 1997 to 2001.

This year marks the first time AU will hold a separate ceremony for each of its six colleges and schools. The schedule is as follows:

  • School of Public Affairs, Saturday, May 9, 9 a.m.
  • School of Communication, Saturday, May 9, 1 p.m.
  • College of Arts and Sciences, Saturday, May 9 , 4:30 p.m.
  • Kogod School of Business, Sunday, May 10, 9 a.m.
  • School of International Service, Sunday, May 10, 1 p.m.
  • Washington College of Law, Sunday, May 24, 1 p.m.