UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Political theorist Benjamin Barber to speak at commencement

– Political theorist Benjamin Barber, actor Warren Beatty, columnist Maureen Dowd, Nobel Prize winning physicist David Gross, and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom are among the speakers at this year's graduation ceremonies at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Class of 2005 selected Barber as the keynote speaker for Commencement Convocation, to be held at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11, at the Greek Theatre. Barber is the Gershon and Carrol Kekst Professor of Civil Society at the University of Maryland and a founder of The Democracy Collaborative, a non-profit think tank affiliated with that university. Barber has been a consultant in the United States and abroad for political and civil leaders, including former President Bill Clinton.

Barber has written 17 books, including the classic "Strong Democracy" (1984) and the 1994 international bestseller "Jihad vs. McWorld: Terrorism's Challenge to Democracy," both of which have been widely used as textbooks.

Barber, who has lectured frequently at UC Berkeley over the years, said he plans to address the role of young people in a world of increasing interdependence and the role of the youth market in the infantilization of global consumers.

The University Medal
Established in 1871, the University Medal honors UC Berkeley's most distinguished graduating senior. Three to five students finalists are also named.

The Finalists
UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau will give his first commencement address at the ceremony, and the graduates will also hear from the top graduating senior, history major Alejandra Dubcovsky. She will receive the coveted University Medal at the event for her academic work analyzing slave letters and for other outstanding accomplishments.

Diplomas are not awarded at Commencement Convocation, which honors all students earning undergraduate and graduate degrees during the 2004-2005 school year. Degrees will be handed out at individual ceremonies held from May 11- 23 by some 50 of UC Berkeley's schools, colleges and departments.

During convocation on May 11, a check will be presented to Birgeneau with the final total of the 2005 Senior Class Gift. This year's senior gift will provide broad support for undergraduate education and student life at UC Berkeley, said Dawn Kobata, the campus's student and parent development coordinator. In addition, a UC Berkeley alumnus has agreed to match all senior gifts, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000.

Many of the upcoming individual graduation ceremonies are drawing nationally known figures to speak. (But many of the ceremonies require advance tickets, and may be sold out; check with the departments for details.) Graduation speakers include:

Wednesday, May 11
Maria Mavroudi, UC Berkeley history professor and recipient of a 2004 MacArthur "genius" fellowship, Department of Near Eastern Studies, 2 p.m., Lipman Room, Barrows Hall.

Thursday, May 12
Rock critic Greil Marcus, combined ceremony for Film Studies program and Department of Rhetoric, 2 p.m., Zellerbach Hall.

Saturday, May 14
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, School of Law (Boalt Hall), 9 a.m., Greek Theatre.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, Graduate School of Journalism, noon, North Gate Hall's courtyard.

Thursday, May 19
William Dudley, chief economist for Goldman Sachs, Economics Department, 2 p.m., Greek Theatre.

Friday, May 20
Phil Bronstein, editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, Undergraduate & Interdisciplinary Studies, 9 a.m., Greek Theatre.
California State Controller Steve Westly, Department of Political Science, 2 p.m., Greek Theatre.
Nobelist David Gross, combined ceremony for Department of Physics and Astronomy Department, 7 p.m., Zellerbach Hall.

Saturday, May 21
Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt, College of Engineering, 8:30 a.m., Greek Theatre.
Robert Reich, former U.S. labor secretary, Department of Sociology, 8:45 a.m., Zellerbach Hall.
Actor Warren Beatty, Goldman School of Public Policy, 10 a.m., Faculty Glade.

Sunday, May 22
Venture capitalist John Doerr, Haas School of Business' MBA graduates, 2 p.m., Greek Theatre.


NOTE: For more graduation ceremony information, please see the seniors.berkeley.edu graduation calendar.