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Coleman ready for ceremony

Eva Binda | Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The president of the University of Michigan, Mary Sue Coleman, was chosen earlier this month to be the principal speaker at the Graduate School commencement May 19

– the first year in which recipients of master’s and doctorate degrees will be honored in a separate ceremony.

Coleman described the commencement ceremony as “a wonderful way to highlight graduate-level education.” The separate event will allow for additional recognition that had been omitted due to time constraints in the previous graduation ceremonies that awarded undergraduate degrees in addition to the graduate honors.

This additional recognition will include the Sheehan Award, Rev. James A. Burns, C.S.C Graduate School Award and Distinguished Graduate Alumni Award.

The practice of a separate ceremony is likely to continue, Graduate Student Union vice president Amber Handy said.

Coleman was chosen by University President Father John Jenkins’s office after it received a short list of candidates from the Graduate School, Handy said. Faculty and students were asked to submit nominations last year once it was decided the Graduate School would hold a separate ceremony.

Handy believes Coleman “is a great choice” and was chosen “to honor the scholarly nature of work done by graduate students at Notre Dame,” she said.

In addition to being the 13th president of the University of Michigan, Coleman is a distinguished biochemist. She served as a member of the biochemistry faculty for 19 years at the University of Kentucky and wrote many scholarly articles. She later served in administrative positions at the Universities of North Carolina and New Mexico before going to the University of Michigan.

Handy believes Coleman is a speaker whose “variety of experiences in the academic world will be interest to all of the graduates,” she said.

“The success she has achieved both as a scientist and administrator is a welcome example [of] the increasing number of avenues open to women in academia,” Handy said.

“[I am] very much looking forward to addressing the graduates and their families,” Coleman said. “The University of Notre Dame is an outstanding institution, and I look

forward to my visit.”

Coleman will receive an honorary degree at the University commencement ceremony, the day after the Graduate School ceremony.

“In all likelihood, this pattern [of giving an honorary degree to the commencement speaker] will continue in the future,” Handy said.