Singer Tony Bennett and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Herman Wouk will head a list of seven speakers and honorary degree recipients at GW’s Class of 2001 Commencement ceremony May 20.
The University usually chooses one keynote speaker to address the graduating class, but dividing the honor is not unprecedented, said Bob Ludwig, assistant director for Media Relations.
GW’s 1996 Commencement ceremony hosted six degree recipients with no main speaker, including Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, according to a May 20, 1996 Hatchet story.
“In the past, there’s been an incredible lineup of degree speakers that act as the (main) Commencement speaker,” Ludwig said “That will probably be the case this year.”
The five other honorary degree recipients who speak on the Ellipse include:
oLeonard Slatkin, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra. Slatkin’s first NSO album won a Grammy award in 1996 for Best Classical Recording.
oRita Colwell, director of the National Science Foundation. Colwell has also served as president of the University of Maryland’s Biotechnology Institute.
oCharlene Drew Jarvis, president of Southeastern University and former D.C. councilwoman. A D.C. native, Jarvis is the first woman to serve as president of Southeastern.
oH.R. Shepherd, a scientist who spearheaded the development of the metered dose asthma inhaler. Shepherd is also an adjunct professor of microbiology and tropical medicine at GW’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
oJohn R. Tydings, president of the D.C. Board of Trade. Tydings has received several leadership awards and serves on boards of many charitable and professional organizations, including the Washington Hospital Center Foundation. He founded Leadership Washington, Inc.
Ludwig said the speakers represent “wide-ranging experiences and achievements of excellence in their respective fields.”
Director of Special Events Jim Hess said GW chooses honorary degree recipients based on their contributions to society in a particular field.
“Tony Bennett is a fabulous singer and he has recently put a lot of his time supporting education in general, and in particular music education for young Americans,” he said.
Bennett has sold more than 50 millions records worldwide and won nine Grammy awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Wouk, whose works include The Caine Mutiny, Marjorie Morningstar and War and Remembrance, won the Pulitzer in 1951 for The Winds of War.
Past Commencement speakers include comedian Bill Cosby, former presidential candidate Bob Dole and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
-Tim Donnelly contributed to this report.