Law, film experts to address grads

A former U.S. solicitor general, an Academy Award winner and the U.S. ambassador to NATO will be among the keynote speakers at graduation ceremonies for individual schools this spring.

Most of the schools and colleges will have an outside or high-profile speaker address the graduating class – with the exception of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

CCAS, the University’s largest school, will not feature “any non-CCAS speakers,” CCAS Dean Peg Barratt wrote in an e-mail. Instead, the dean, students and faculty are slated to speak. Last year, U.S. Director of National Intelligence John Michael McConnell spoke to CCAS graduates.

Michael King, chair of the department of chemistry and CCAS marshal, said the school prefers to avoid outside speakers.

“School celebrations were never conceived to compete with Commencement, but rather to serve as an adjunct to provide an opportunity to give individual recognition and celebrate the accomplishments of every graduate,” he wrote in an e-mail.

The ceremonies for the individual schools and colleges take place in the few days before the University-wide Commencement on May 17.

Former U.S. Solicitor General and GW adjunct professor Gregory Garre will speak to the Law School. The Solicitor General represents the government in Supreme Court cases.

“It will be my pleasure to introduce Professor Garre at our diploma ceremony and it will be our honor to hear about his exceptional career and the importance of the legal education our graduates will have just completed,” Law School Dean Frederick Lawrence said.

One of several alumni returning for the ceremonies, Bill Westenhofer – who graduated in 1995 with a degree in computer sciences – will speak to students in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Westenhofer won an Academy Award last year for his work on the visual effects in the film “The Golden Compass.” He also worked on other films including “Elf” and “Men in Black II.”

“Graduation is a time when our students are especially looking ahead to their careers and thinking about the possibilities that they may have,” SEAS Dean David Dolling said. “Bill Westenhofer is a SEAS alumnus who has excelled in the career he has chosen for himself, and he represents a wonderful example of what our students can achieve with the education they’ve received here.”

The Elliott School of International Affairs announced last week that NATO Ambassador and GW alumnus Kurt Volker will be their ceremony’s speaker.

Volker graduated from the Elliott School in 1987 and was appointed this fall to be the U.S. representative to NATO.

Students in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences will hear an address from world-renowned doctor William Devries at their ceremony. Devries was the first surgeon to perform a successful permanent artificial heart implantation.

Devries also teaches part-time at the SMHS, according the school’s Web site.

Roslyn Brock, vice chairman of the National Board of Directors for NAACP, will be the keynote speaker at the School of Public Health and Health Services.

Brock was the first woman and the youngest chairman ever elected to the position, which she has held since 2001.

The speaker for the School of Business graduate ceremony was not available as of press time. The speaker for the School of Business undergraduate ceremony has not yet been confirmed.

The School of Media and Public Affairs and the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration will not have individual speakers. Instead, they will attend the Columbian College’s ceremony.

The College of Professional Studies and the Graduate School of Education and Human Development did not have the names of their speakers available as of press time.

Confirmed Speakers

Law School: Gregory Garre, former U.S. solicitor general

ESIA: Kurt Volker, U.S. ambassador to NATO

SEAS: Bill Westenhofer, Oscar-winning visual effects artist

SMHS: William Devries, renowned surgeon

CCAS: Dean, students and faculty

SPHHS: Roslyn Brock, vice chairman of NAACP board

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