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AU Announces Fall 2015 Commencement Speaker

By Kelly Alexander

Dr. David J. Skorton

Dr. David J. Skorton, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution

American University will celebrate more than 1,100 graduates from five of its seven schools and colleges, during a Fall Commencement Ceremony—its first-ever December ceremony—on Wednesday, Dec. 16. Dr. David J. Skorton, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and the first cardiologist to hold this position, will be the keynote speaker. 

Listen to WAMU Interview with Skorton.

The accomplishments of AU's August and December graduates will be celebrated during the ceremony in Bender Arena on AU's campus at 1 p.m. The ceremony was added to accommodate the growing numbers of students graduating early. 

Dr. Skorton began his tenure as the 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum and research complex, on July 1. Before joining the Smithsonian, Skorton served as president of Cornell University for nine years. Educated as a cardiologist, his research focus is congenital heart disease and cardiac imaging and image processing. Skorton was president of the University of Iowa from 2003 to 2006 and a member of its faculty for 26 years.

He earned his bachelor's degree in psychology in 1970 and his M.D. in 1974, both from Northwestern University. He completed his medical residency and fellowship in cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1979.

Upon his appointment as Secretary, Skorton said, "The Smithsonian will continue to teach and delight educators, students and learners of all ages through its museums, affiliates and online presence." The Smithsonian was founded on the principle that education empowers a person, and therefore, a nation.

American University awarded its first degrees (two doctorates and one master's degree) in 1916 at a commencement ceremony held in the university's amphitheater. Thousands of students from AU's six schools and colleges participate in commencement ceremonies each year.

More information about the Fall Commencement Ceremony is available on the AU Commencement website. This will be AU's 130th commencement ceremony.