Additional speakers to join Rooney on Commencement stage

Additional speakers will join CBS correspondent and keynote speaker Andy Rooney on stage to address graduates at the May 22 Commencement ceremony on The Ellipse.

University officials declined to name the speakers, saying they will wait until next week when President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg returns from an overseas trip to Paris.

“We just want to make sure we have all of our ducks in a row,” said Jim Hess, director of University Events.

Hess said he could not say how many speakers have been chosen to accompany Rooney, a veteran “60 Minutes” personality whose granddaughter is a GW senior. In an interview last week, University Marshal Jill Kasle said three people have been selected.

“All the background details have been sorted out, we just want to make sure President Trachtenberg is involved in the approval process,” said Tracy Schario, director of Media Relations.

While the University has yet to disclose its full Commencement lineup, the Law School announced earlier this month that Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate minority leader, will address students at the school’s separate diploma ceremony on May 22.

“He will be a major player in political life in the U.S. as Senate minority leader,” Law School interim dean Roger Transgrud said Wednesday. “He is likely to be much better known in the future and we thought that the graduates would like to hear what he has to say.”

Transgrud said the Law School invited Reid, a 1964 GW Law School graduate, to speak in December after considering several other candidates.

The son of a miner in the Nevada desert, Reid became the youngest lieutenant governor in the state’s history at age 30. He entered the Senate in 1986 after two terms in Congress.

The Hatchet reported in January that Rooney would speak at May’s main Commencement ceremony, which is for all graduates. Individual schools hold their own diploma ceremonies. In recent years, GW has traditionally brought more than one commencement speaker to The Ellipse.

Rooney will be given more speaking time than the other three honorees, Kasle said.

Last year’s Commencement did not feature an extended speech from any of the honorary degree recipients. Instead, former NATO Allied Commander John Shalikashvili, oncologist Luther W. Brady, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman and Shakespearean scholar and former GW professor Gail Kern Paster were each given two minutes to address the graduates.

In an interview before he departed for Europe, Trachtenberg emphasized that the honorary degrees will recognize people “who have made a contribution to society.”

“They honor us just as we honor them,” Trachtenberg said.

-Gabriel Okolski contributed to this report.

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