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President Barack H. Obama will deliver the keynote address at Barnard College’s 120th Commencement ceremony on Monday, May 14, at 12:30 p.m. on Columbia University’s South Lawn. He will address approximately 600 members of the Class of 2012 and receive the Barnard Medal of Distinction, the College’s highest honor. The speech will be broadcast live on www.barnard.edu.
“This is an extraordinary honor for Barnard and we are thrilled to welcome President Obama for this important moment in the lives of our graduates and their families,” said Barnard President Debora L. Spar. “His commitment to empowering women is so meaningful to our students, who aspire to lead and make their mark on the world. No doubt, the President's words will make this year's Commencement truly unforgettable.”
University President Lee C. Bollinger said, "All of us can be proud that President Obama, the first Columbia graduate to serve in the nation's highest office, has chosen to honor the importance of women's leadership by returning to campus at our historic sister liberal arts college for women in New York."
President Spar will preside over the Commencement ceremony, confer the Barnard Medals of Distinction, present the degree candidates, and address the Class of 2012, their family and friends, and faculty, staff and guests of Barnard. The graduates will also hear from Jolyne Caruso-FitzGerald ’81, chair of the Barnard Board of Trustees and CEO of the Alberleen Group. Helene D. Gayle ’76, president and CEO of CARE USA; Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry; and Sally Chapman, Barnard professor of chemistry, will receive Barnard Medals of Distinction.
Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times, was previously announced as the keynote speaker and has noted that she is happy to speak at Barnard at a later date.
In recent years, Barnard’s Commencement speakers have included Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and legendary actress Meryl Streep.
For more information, visit www.barnard.edu/commencement.