Press Release

Graduation ceremony season starts Thursday, May 14

| 13 May 2009

Pixar Animation co-founder Alvy Ray Smith; Sir Andrew Duncan Crockett, president of JP Morgan International; and world-renowned sleep researcher Matt Walker will be among the speakers passing on acumen and inspiration to graduating students at the University of California, Berkeley, at ceremonies starting tomorrow (Thursday, May 14).

UC Berkeley's graduation season features dozens of individual school, college and department ceremonies that will run through May 30. Commencement Convocation, a ceremony honoring all graduating seniors, will begin at 2 p.m. on May 22 at the Greek Theatre. This year's keynote speaker is self-made entrepreneur Chris Gardner, whose book, "The Pursuit of Happyness," inspired the 2006 movie of the same name, starring actor Will Smith and his son, Jayden.

Commencement Convocation is an annual outdoor event that begins with a procession of students and faculty in colorful regalia. As is customary, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau will address the graduates and their families. No diplomas are awarded at the event.

Among the student speakers at convocation will be top graduating senior Emma Shaw Crane, who majored in Interdisciplinary Studies and minored in Global Poverty & Practice. At convocation, Shaw Crane will receive the coveted University Medal for her scholarship in race, gender and political economy, plus her work with political prisoners and underprivileged youth. Read more about Shaw Crane at: http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2009/05/12_medalist.shtml.

At least 10,000 students are set to receive diplomas at their respective commencement ceremonies this month. Approximately 6,800 bachelor's degrees and more than 3,000 master's, doctoral and professional degrees will be conferred.

Scheduled graduation speakers include:

Friday, May 15

  • Sandip Roy, radio host and editor for New American Media, who will speak to graduates of South and Southeast Asian Studies at 10 a.m. at Alumni House.
  • Cherrie Moraga, a Chicana poet and playwright, who will address graduates in ethnic studies at noon in the Zellerbach Playhouse.

Saturday, May 16

  • Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine Law School. He will speak to graduates of the UC Berkeley School of Law at 9 a.m. at the Greek Theatre.
  • Julie Louise Gerberding, former director of the Centers for Disease Control. She will speak to graduates of the School of Public Health at 9 a.m. at Zellberbach Hall.
  • John Markoff, computer and technology reporter at The New York Times, who will speak to graduates of the School of Information at 2 p.m. at the Campanile Esplanade
  • Sandra R. Hernández, CEO of The San Francisco Foundation. She will speak to graduates of the School of Social Welfare at Zellerbach Hall at 6:30 p.m.
  • John Olson, district manager of the Federal Reserve Bank, will speak to philosophy graduates at 11 a.m. at the Faculty Club.

Sunday, May 17

  • John Woolard, CEO of BrightSource Energy, will speak to MBA graduates at 2 p.m. at the Greek Theatre.
  • Margie Eugene-Richard, environmental activist and winner of the 2004 Goldman Prize. She will speak to graduates of the College of Natural Resources at 9 a.m. at the Greek Theatre.

Tuesday, May 19

  • Sir Andrew Duncan Crockett, president of JP Morgan International. He will address graduates of the Department of Economics at 2 p.m. at the Greek Theatre.

Wednesday, May 20

  • Matt Walker, a UC Berkeley psychologist and an expert on how sleep affects the brain, will speak to psychology graduates at 2 p.m. at the Greek Theatre.

Thursday, May 21

  • Moura Quayle, commissioner of the Pacific Coast Collaborative, will speak to graduates in environmental design at 2 p.m. at the Greek Theatre.

Friday, May 22

  • Robert Reich, UC Berkeley professor of public policy and former U.S. secretary of labor. He will address Undergraduate and Interdisciplinary Students graduates at 9 a.m. at the Greek Theatre.
  • Chris Gardner, who will deliver the keynote speech at Commencement Convocation at 2 p.m. at the Greek Theatre.
  • UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau , who will speak to graduates of physical sciences at 7 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall.