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Commencement 2013 Speakers Announced

By Maralee Csellar

Commencement Cap

Leaders in humanitarian medical assistance, the music and entertainment industries, an internationally renowned author and journalist, and former officials at the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of State, will address American University’s graduates at the 127th commencement ceremonies on May 11 and 12, followed by the law school ceremony on May 19.

Lisa P. Jackson, former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will address graduates of the School of Public Affairs at 9 a.m., Saturday, May 11. During her four years with the EPA, she authorized stricter fuel standards, addressed health threats from toxins, and renewed public trust in EPA’s work. The lifelong public servant’s advice will resonate with the nation’s most politically active students. Jackson will receive an honorary doctor of public service.

DreamWorks Television co-president Darryl Frank (SOC/BA ’91) will speak to the graduates of the School of Communication at 1 p.m., Saturday, May 11. He oversees all television development, production, and programming for the studio, and is executive producing five shows on five different networks, including NBC’s Smash, Showtime’s The Borgias, TNT’s Falling Skies, FX's The Americans, and CBS's Under The Dome. The 1991 alumnus of AU’s School of Communication will address graduates as they embark on careers in broadcast, public relations, and journalism. Frank will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters.

Anthropologist and physician Dr. Paul Farmer will provide advice to the College of Arts and Sciences wonks who have emphasized the sciences, social sciences, humanities, education, and arts in their studies in order to connect them to society’s larger issues at 4:30 p.m., Saturday, May 11. Known for his work on health, human rights, and the consequences of social inequality, Farmer is chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and also serves as U.N. Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Community-based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti. Farmer will receive an honorary doctor of science.

Business mogul Gary Veloric (Kogod/BSBA ’82) founder of Red Stripe Plane Group, a family of companies focused on entertainment and music, will speak at the Kogod School of Business ceremony at 9 a.m., Sunday, May 12. After a career in healthcare, and investment banking as chairman of J.G. Wentworth, Veloric followed his passion for music, which dates back to his concert planning days at AU. Considering today’s ever-changing business landscape, Veloric’s story will inspire future entrepreneurs. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws.

Moisés Naím, senior associate in the International Economics Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, will address School of International Service graduates hoping to create meaningful change in today’s global society at 1 p.m., Sunday, May 12. The international economics and politics wonk’s career has spanned the worlds of journalism, as former editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy, to public service, as Venezuela’s minister of trade and industry, and executive director of the World Bank. Naim will receive an honorary doctor of international affairs.

Harold Hongju Koh, former legal advisor to the U.S. Department of State, will speak at the Washington College of Law ceremony at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 19. Koh, a Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale Law School, is one of the country’s leading experts in public and private international law, national security law, and human rights. He will receive an honorary doctor of laws.

In addition to conferring honorary degrees, American University President Neil Kerwin will present the President’s Award, the highest award for undergraduate students, to a graduating senior who has displayed a longstanding commitment to building community and promoting AU’s ideals of academic achievement, integrity, selflessness, leadership, and service.

American University will confer degrees on more than 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and law school students. More than 2,500 will participate in the commencement events on Saturday, May 11, and Sunday, May 12, in American University’s Bender Arena. It is a longstanding tradition for American University to hold graduation ceremonies on Mother’s Day weekend. One week later, on Sunday, May 19, at 1 p.m., students will participate in the Washington College of Law’s graduation ceremony, also held in Bender Arena.

Families and friends who cannot make the ceremonies will be able to watch a live stream of each ceremony on the American University website. Students, alumni, friends, and family are also encouraged to follow AU’s Commencement on the Facebook group, and tweet during commencement using the hashtag—#2013AUGrad.