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Obama to speak at ND Commencement

Sam Davis | Sunday, March 22, 2009

The White House announced Friday President Barack Obama will deliver the Commencement address at Notre Dame on May 17. The University also announced in a press release Friday afternoon Obama will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the ceremony, which will be held in the Joyce Center.

Obama will be the sixth U.S. president to be the principal speaker at a Notre Dame Commencement ceremony and the ninth president to receive an honorary degree.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday Obama will speak at three graduation services this spring – first at Arizona State on May 13, followed by Notre Dame on May 17 and the U.S. Naval Academy on May 22. Presidents typically speak at a commencement ceremony at one of the three service academies every year.

During the presidential campaign, Obama spoke at Wesleyan University in Connecticut last May when he filled in for Sen. Edward Kennedy as commencement speaker.

According to the University press release, the last sitting president to give the Commencement address at Notre Dame was President George W. Bush, who spoke in 2001. It was Bush’s first commencement address after his election in 2000.

President George H.W. Bush was the principal Commencement speaker at Notre Dame in 1992, and in May 1981, President Ronald Reagan made his first public appearance after a March assassination attempt when he was the University’s Commencement speaker.

President Jimmy Carter spoke to 1977 graduates, giving what some call the key foreign policy address of his presidency. President Dwight Eisenhower spoke at Notre Dame in 1960 as the first U.S. president to give the Commencement address.

President John F. Kennedy gave the winter Commencement address in 1950 when he was a U.S. Senator. Kennedy is also the only president to receive the Laetare Medal, Notre Dame’s highest honor, awarded annually to an influential American Catholic.

No further information was available Friday afternoon. See Monday’s edition of The Observer for more information, and follow The Observer on Twitter for updates throughout the weekend (www.twitter.com/ndsmcnews).