December graduates to attend convocation ceremony this Sunday

| 02 December 2008

More than 2,500 students at the University of California, Berkeley, are graduating this fall, and several hundred of them will walk across the Zellerbach Auditorium stage in caps and gowns this Sunday, Dec. 7, at the 2008 December Graduates Convocation.

The keynote speaker will be Mimi Silbert, founder and CEO of the San Francisco-based Delancey Street Foundation, arguably the nation's best-known residential self-help program for former substance abusers, ex-convicts, homeless individuals and others wanting to turn their lives around. A UC Berkeley alumna, Silbert received a master's degree in education in 1965 and a doctorate in criminology in 1968.

This semester, about 1,795 UC Berkeley undergraduates and 1,038 graduate students will earn degrees, according to the campus's Office of the Registrar. Approximately 300 graduates and their guests are expected to attend this Sunday's ceremony. No diplomas will be awarded at the event. Tickets are required, and credentialed news media are welcome. The first December Graduates Convocation was held in Hertz Hall auditorium in 2000.

Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau and California Alumni Association President Darek Defreece will speak at this Sunday's event. The student address will be given by 2008 graduate Casey Trombley-Shapiro. "Hail to California" will be performed by the University of California Men's Octet, and the "Star-Spangled Banner" will be performed by the Golden Overtones.

Also on the program will be Walter B. Hewlett, chairman of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Hewlett, an independent software developer with a background in physics, engineering and music, helped his father and mother establish the Hewlett Foundation in 1966 and has served as chairman since 1994. The foundation supports an array of social and environmental causes.

Last year, the Hewlett Foundation donated $113 million to UC Berkeley to create 100 endowed chairs to keep professors' salaries competitive with those at the best private schools and to recruit top graduate students. The gift was the largest private donation in the campus's history.