President Bush to address Notre Dame graduates at Commencement

Author: Dennis Brown

President George W. Bush will be the principal speaker and the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree at the University of Notre Dame’s 156th Commencement exercises May 20 (Sunday). The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. in the Joyce Center on campus.

President Bush is the seventh president to be awarded an honorary degree by the University and the fifth to be the Commencement speaker, following his father in 1992, Ronald Reagan in 1981, Jimmy Carter in 1977 and Dwight Eisenhower in 1960. Gerald Ford in 1975 and Franklin Roosevelt in 1935 received honorary degrees at special academic convocations. President John F. Kennedy was the University’s 1961 Laetare Medalist.

President Bush has made three previous visits to Notre Dame, twice for football games and, most notably, on March 7, 1980, when he spoke on behalf of his father’s presidential candidacy at the University’s Mock Republican Convention. (The elder Bush won the Notre Dame vote but lost the national nomination to Ronald Reagan, whom he served eight years as vice president.

Notre Dame’s alumni members of Congress ? Reps. Mike Ferguson, R-N.J.; Peter King, R-N.Y.; Tim Roemer, D-Ind.; Mark Souder, R-Ind.; and Peter Visclosky, D-Ind. ? wrote a joint letter in support of the University’s invitation to the president, and Roemer, whose district includes the University, hand-delivered it.

Joining the president as honorary degree recipients are:

John Bahcall (doctor of science) ? A distinguished astrophysicist, Bahcall is the Richard Black Professor of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton,N.J. His many significant contributions to the field include seminal work on detecting solar neutrinos, developing a comprehensive model of the Milky Way Galaxy, and advocacy, planning and use of the Hubble Space Telescope. Among the honors he has received are the National Medal of Science from President Clinton and the Distinguished Public Service Medal from NASA.

Rev. Cyprian Davis, O.S.B. (doctor of laws) ? A Benedictine monk, Father Davis is a professor of church history at Saint Meinrad School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Ind. His 1990 book ?The History of Black Catholics in the United States? is a survey of African-Americans in the church from the Spanish explorations to 1970 and is considered the definitive work in its field. Ordained a priest in 1956, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Saint Meinrad College and graduate degrees in theology from the Catholic University of America and the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.

Marilou Eldred (doctor of laws) ? The president of Saint Mary’s College since 1997, Eldred is the first laywoman to lead the nation’s premier Catholic women’s college. Her presidency has been notable for a 30-percent increase in the number of incoming students and the development of a 10-year construction and renovation plan for the college. A graduate of Mundelein College, she earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in education administration from New York University. Prior to her current appointment, she was vice president and academic dean of the College of St. Catherine in Minnesota.

Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. (doctors of laws) ? The chairman of the board and chief executive officer of IBM since 1993, Gerstner is credited with reviving the fortunes of the world’s largest computer company by making Internet technology and services top priorities. Gerstner previously served as chairman and chief executive officer of RJR Nabisco, Inc., president of American Express Company, and director of the management consulting firm McKinsey&Co. He has been a strong advocate of the importance of quality education and is the coauthor of ?Reinventing Education: Entrepreneurship in America’s Public Schools.?

John W. Jordan II (doctor of laws) ? A 1969 Notre Dame graduate and a member of the University’s Board of Trustees since 1993, Jordan is founder of The Jordan Company (TJC), a private investment firm that acquires, manages and builds companies for the TJC partnership account. He formed the Chicago- based holding company Jordan Industries, Inc. in 1988 and serves as its chairman and chief executive officer. Among his many philanthropic activities are generous contributions to Notre Dame, including the Jordan Auditorium in the Mendoza College of Business.

William Kennedy (doctor of humane letters) ? A writer of international renown, Kennedy is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel ?Ironweed? and five other critically acclaimed novels set in his hometown, in the state capital of New York, collectively called the ?Albany Cycle.? He coscripted the 1986 film ?The Cotton Club? with Francis Ford Coppola, and his film version of ?Ironweed? starred Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. A graduate of Siena College, he is a professor of English at the University of Albany and the director of the New York State Writers Institute.

Archbishop Giuseppe Pittau, S.J. (doctor of laws) ?Appointed secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education by Pope John Paul II in 1998, Father Pittau plays a primary role in the oversight of Catholic schools, including universities and seminaries, around the world. Among his previous appointments, he served as president of Sophia University in Tokyo, provincial of the Society of Jesus in Japan, and rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He earned a doctorate in political science from Harvard University and is an expert on Oriental culture.

Sara Martinez Tucker (doctor of laws) ? Tucker has served since 1996 as president and chief executive officer of the National Hispanic Scholarship Fund. The country’s largest such fund, it has awarded more than $31 million to some 32,000 students since its establishment in 1975. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas, Tucker served for 16 years in a variety of management positions with AT&T, ultimately becoming the company’s first Hispanic woman executive.She was selected as the 2001 Hispanic of the Year by Hispanic magazine.

Andrew J. Viterbi (doctor of engineering) ? A leading contributor to communications theory and its industrial applications, Viterbi is the president of Viterbi Group, LLC, a San Diego-based firm that advises and invests in startup companies, predominantly in the wireless communications and network infrastructure fields. He is the cofounder of Qualcomm Inc., a developer and manufacturer of mobile satellite communications and digital wireless telephony. He taught for 10 years at UCLA, where he did fundamental work in digital communication theory and wrote two books and numerous research papers.

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