Notre Dame to confer 3,065 degrees during Commencement ceremonies May 14-15

Author: Sue Lister

2015 Commencement

The University of Notre Dame will confer 3,065 degrees during Commencement Weekend May 14 and 15 (Saturday and Sunday) on campus.

Degrees will be conferred on 2,163 undergraduates at Notre Dame’s 171st University Commencement Ceremony on Sunday. Retired U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be the principal speaker and the recipient of an honorary degree. Vice President Joe Biden and former House Speaker John Boehner will receive the 2016 Laetare Medal (lay-TAH-ray), the oldest and most prestigious honor given to American Catholics.

Biden is the first sitting U.S. vice president to be on stage during a University Commencement Ceremony and the first vice president to attend the ceremony in Notre Dame Stadium. The only U.S. president to speak at a Notre Dame Commencement Ceremony in the stadium was Dwight Eisenhower in 1960. All previous presidents who have attended Commencement were involved in ceremonies that took place at the University’s former Fieldhouse or Joyce Center.

Abby Davis, a political science major from Avon Lake, Ohio, will deliver the valedictory address. Salutatorian Stephen Schafer, a finance and economics major from Edgewood, Kentucky, will deliver the invocation.

In addition to Dempsey, six others will receive honorary degrees. They are molecular microbiologist Rita Colwell; civil rights movement leader Diane Nash; outgoing University Board of Trustees chairman Richard Notebaert; internationally acclaimed jazz and classical musician and composer Arturo Sandoval; archbishop of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Donald Wuerl; and Pauline Yu, president of the American Council of Learned Societies.

The University will also award for the first time the Hesburgh-Stephan Medal, named in honor of the late Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s 15th president, under whose leadership the Board was established, and Edmund A. Stephan, first chairman of the Board. It will be given to a Trustee, whether lay or a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross, for uncommon and exemplary contributions to the governance and mission of Notre Dame during his or her tenure on the Board. The inaugural recipient is Notebaert.

On Saturday, an additional 711 students will receive master’s and doctoral degrees at the Graduate School Commencement Ceremony, along with 534 master’s degree students at the Mendoza College of Business Ceremony and 201 at the Law School Ceremony.

Some notable Commencement weekend events are:

  • The ROTC Commissioning Ceremony, 9 a.m. Saturday, Leighton Concert Hall, DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.
  • The Graduate School Commencement Ceremony, 10 a.m. Saturday, Compton Family Ice Arena.
  • The Mendoza College of Business Graduate Ceremony, 10 a.m. Saturday, Purcell Pavilion, Joyce Center.
  • The Law School Ceremony, 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Hesburgh Library Reflecting Pool.
  • The Service Send-Off Ceremony, 1 p.m. Saturday, Leighton Concert Hall, DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.
  • Baccalaureate Mass, 5 p.m. Saturday, Purcell Pavilion, Joyce Center.
  • The undergraduate college and department diploma ceremonies beginning at approximately 1 p.m. Sunday throughout campus.

A complete schedule of events is available from the Commencement website.

Due to the participation of Biden, additional security measures will be in place at the University Commencement Ceremony.

The academic processional will begin at approximately 9 a.m., but guests are encouraged to arrive early due to expected delays as everyone will be required to pass through airport-style security checkpoints operated by U.S. Secret Service personnel. All attendees must have a ticket for admission. Guests can enter beginning at 7 a.m. through Gate A on the stadium’s northeast corner and Gate C on the south end.

Many common items will be prohibited at Commencement. For a complete list of prohibited items, visit the Commencement website.

Contact: Sue Lister, director of media relations, 574-631-7916,