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Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

2006 graduation speakers lineup

– Stem-cell research policymakers, a Bob Dylan chronicler and a celebrity "eco-stylist" are among the dozens of speakers who will offer words of inspiration and caution this month to graduates of the University of California, Berkeley.

Festivities begin Wednesday, May 10, at 4 p.m. with Commencement Convocation, an event for all graduating seniors at the campus's Greek Theatre. Diplomas will not be awarded there, but instead at dozens of individual ceremonies held from May 11-22 by the campus's schools, colleges and departments.

The Class of 2006 has chosen California Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez to be the keynote speaker at convocation. The son of Mexican immigrants, he emerged on the state political scene in 1994 when he led an attempt to defeat Proposition 187, an initiative to bar undocumented immigrants from public schools and restrict their medical care to emergency services. Núñez (D-Los Angeles), 39, has bachelor's degrees in political science and education from Pitzer College in Claremont and was elected to the state Assembly in 2002.

Delivering a tribute to global social responsibility will be top graduating senior Lane Rettig, a double major in computer science and Japanese. He will receive the coveted University Medal at convocation for his work creating educational software for the developing world and proficiency in Japanese, among other outstanding accomplishments.

On Saturday, May 13, Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee and former Vermont governor and 2004 presidential hopeful, plans to address graduates of the School of Law (Boalt Hall) at 10 a.m. at the Greek Theatre.

That same day, state Assemblywoman Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge), chair of the Assembly's higher education committee, is scheduled to address students at the Graduate School of Education's commencement at 2 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall.

And on Saturday, May 20, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is expected to speak to graduates of the Goldman School of Public Policy at 10 a.m. on Faculty Glade.

At least 10,000 students are expected to collect undergraduate and post-graduate diplomas at their respective commencement ceremonies. Among the other scheduled graduation speakers this spring are:

Thursday, May 11


  • Barbara Lubin, director of the Middle East Children's Alliance. She will speak at the Near Eastern Studies commencement at 2 p.m. in the Lipman Room in Barrows Hall.

Saturday, May 13

  • Laurie Garrett, a journalist and global public health expert who has won a Peabody Award, a Polk Award and a Pulitzer Prize. She will speak to School of Public Health graduates at 8 a.m. at Zellerbach Hall.
  • James Nachtwey, an award-winning photojournalist who has covered wars around the world. He will speak at the Graduate School of Journalism commencement at 11 a.m. at Northgate Hall.
  • Erik Kaplan, writer and producer of the animated comedy "Futurama" and the Fox family comedy "Malcolm in the Middle." He will speak to Philosophy Department graduates at 11 a.m. at Faculty Glade.
  • Tim O'Reilly, an Internet pioneer and founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, Inc. He will speak to Information Management and Systems graduates at 1 p.m. at the Campanile Esplanade.

Sunday, May 14

  • Rebecca Solnit, an acclaimed art critic, writer and cultural historian, who will address graduates of the English Department at 3 p.m. at the Greek Theatre.

Wednesday, May 17

  • Tony Taccone, artistic director at the Berkeley Repertory Theater, who will address Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies graduates at 2 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse.

Thursday, May 18

  • David Kennedy, a Pulitzer-prize winning historian and Stanford University history professor, who will speak to History Department graduates at 9 a.m. at Zellerbach Hall.
  • Janice Mirikitani, executive director of Glide Memorial Church, who will speak at the undergraduate social welfare commencement at 7 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall.

Friday, May 19

  • Greil Marcus, a Berkeley writer, critic and chronicler of Bob Dylan, who will address American Studies and Religious Studies graduates at 9 a.m. at the Greek Theatre.
  • Barbara Reyes, a San Francisco Filipina poet. She will speak to Ethnic Studies graduates at noon at Zellerbach Playhouse.
  • Roy DeForest, an artist who was part of the 1960s "Funk Art" movement, will speak to Art Practice graduates at the Berkeley Art Museum's sculpture garden at 3 p.m.
  • Jill Tarter, a famed astronomer and director of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute's Center for Research in Mountain View. She will speak at the Astronomy Department commencement at 7 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall.
  • Robert Klein, chair of the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. He will speak to Molecular & Cell Biology undergraduates getting a diploma at 7 p.m. at the Greek Theatre.

Saturday, May 20

  • Dr. Zach W. Hall, president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, who will speak to graduate students getting their diplomas in molecular and cell biology at 2 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse.

Sunday, May 21

  • Reed Hastings, CEO and founder of NetFlix, who will speak at the Haas School of Business commencement for students getting an MBA at 9 a.m. at the Greek Theatre.
  • Danny Seo, a champion of biodiversity and an eco-friendly lifestyle expert, who will address Environmental Sciences graduates at 10 a.m. at the Chancellor's Esplanade.
  • Byron Williams, a writer, theologian, activist and pastor of Oakland's Resurrection Community Church. He will speak at the African American Studies commencement at 2 p.m. at the Greek Theatre.

Monday, May 22

  • Larry Orman, executive director of GreenInfo Network, who will speak to Environmental Design graduates at 2 p.m. at the Greek Theatre.