Every year, many schools invite the current president to speak at commencement ceremonies. Many have tried, but few have succeeded.
The White House has just confirmed that President Barack Obama will be the keynote speaker at the University of California, Irvine’s (UCI) class of 2014 graduation! Obama said he chose UCI because “UC Irvine does outstanding work at the undergraduate and graduate level in science and research, humanities, and professional studies, and the president looks forward to speaking with the graduates in June.”
50 years ago, President Johnson went to what is now UCI and stated: “I have come to California to ask you to throw off your doubts about America. … Help us demonstrate to the world that people of compassion and commitment can free their fellow citizens from the bonds of injustice, the prisons of poverty and the chains of ignorance.” So in honor of President Johnson’s 50th anniversary of dedicating the campus land, Chancellor Michael V. Drake reached out to the white house last April with an invitation for the president to speak at the 2014 commencement ceremony. This gesture was followed by about 10,000 postcards signed by fellow Anteaters (students, faculty, staff & alumni) and a student-produced video invitation delivered to the White House Office of Public Engagement by the Vice Chancellor himself, earlier this month.
President Obama has accepted the invitation yesterday and the ceremony will take place on June 14th at the Angel Stadium in Anaheim. Renting out this facility is estimated to cost over a million dollars, but it is worth it, right? It’s not everyday you get to say “the president spoke at my graduation!” However, Obama is only speaking at the unified commencement ceremony for undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. Individual school-based ceremonies where students will be called individually as they walk across the stage will be held on campus the following two days.
It’s good to be an anteater. Zot zot!