University’s commencement speakers include politician Stacey Abrams, writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
AU’s commencement ceremonies will take place on May 11 and 12
American University has announced the speakers for its 137th commencement ceremonies, which will take place on May 11 and 12.
While each school hosts its own commencement in Bender Arena, every ceremony will be livestreamed online. Last year, AU brought speakers to campus that included political journalist Robert Costa, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and journalist María Elena Salinas.
School of Public Affairs: Stacey Abrams
Stacey Abrams, a former Democrat candidate for governor and minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, will deliver the commencement address to the School of Public Affairs at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 11.
In a press release, President Sylvia Burwell praised Abrams’ career of advocacy.
“In her passionate pursuit of change, Stacey Abrams is the embodiment of a big thinker with bold ideas,” Burwell said. “It is both an honor and a privilege to welcome her to our campus to deliver the School of Public Affairs commencement address.”
For seven years, Abrams served as House minority leader, the first black woman to hold that role. In 2018, she became the first African-American woman to be nominated for governor by a major political party.
After delivering the Democrat response to President Trump’s State of the Union address earlier this year, Abrams is expected to run for higher office again, whether in the Georgia 2020 Senate race, 2022 governor’s election or even the 2020 presidential election.
School of Communications: Pam Kaufman
Pam Kaufman, the president of Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products, will deliver the commencement address for the School of Communication commencement at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 11.
Kaufman previously served as the president of consumer products and chief marketing officer for Nickelodeon, where she directed the company’s television marketing strategy. She is also an AU alumna, graduating with a B.A. from the School of Communications in 1985.
College of Arts and Sciences: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Renowned writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will deliver the College of Arts and Sciences’ commencement address at 6 p.m. on May 11 during the final commencement ceremony of the day.
Adichie is an award-winning author, most recently publishing the book, “Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions,” in March 2017. She is well known for her critically acclaimed books "Half of a Yellow Sun,” “Americanah” and the book-length essay “We Should All Be Feminists."
Her 2009 TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” has over 17 million views, making it one of the most viewed talks of all time, and is required viewing in the first-year AUx curriculum.
Kogod School of Business: Roger W. Ferguson Jr.
The commencement address for the Kogod School of Business will be delivered by economist Roger W. Ferguson Jr. at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 12.
From 1999 to 2006, Ferguson served as the first African-American vice chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. During that time, he coordinated the Federal Reserve’s response to the 9/11 attacks.
School of International Service: James L. Jones
Retired Marine Corps General James L. Jones will deliver the commencement address for the School of International Service at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 12.
Jones served as the supreme allied commander in Europe, the commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Allied Command Operations. In 2008, Jones was appointed as the State Department's Special Envoy for Middle East Regional Security before becoming President Barack Obama’s national security advisor.
Washington College of Law: Roger L. Gregory
The Washington College of Law’s commencement address will be given at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 19 by Roger L. Gregory, the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Gregory was part of the majority decision in 2004 by the Fourth Circuit to overturn Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. He remains the only federal judge to be nominated by two presidents of different political parties.