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Washington Post columnist to address Wake Forest University's 2008 graduates

May 19, 2008

E.J. Dionne Jr., a columnist for the Washington Post, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and professor at Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute, will deliver Wake Forest University’s 2008 commencement address and receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree May 19.

This year’s graduating class at Wake Forest totals 1,530 undergraduate and graduate students.   A total of 1,565 students, which includes some who have completed their degree requirements during the summer or fall sessions since last year’s commencement, will receive diplomas during the 9 a.m. outdoor ceremony on Wake Forest’s Hearn Plaza.

Dionne began writing his Washington Post column in 1993, and it is syndicated to more than 100 other newspapers.  He appears regularly as a commentator on national radio and television shows, and his articles are published in major magazines and journals.

After graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University in 1973, Dionne earned his doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.  He spent 14 years with The New York Times reporting on politics, and his assignments took him to posts around the world, including Paris, Rome and Beirut.  At the Brookings Institution, he edits and co-edits a variety of publications.  He has received numerous honors, including the American Political Science Association’s Carey McWilliams Award, recognizing a major journalistic contribution to the understanding of politics; and the Empathy Award from the Volunteers of America.  The National Journal named Dionne among the 25 most influential Washington journalists, and Washingtonian magazine ranked him in its list of the top 50 journalists.

Dionne is the author of “Why Americans Hate Politics,” which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was nominated for a National Book Award; “They Only Look Dead: Why Progressives Will Dominate the Next Political Era”; “Stand Up and Fight Back: Republican Toughs, Democratic Wimps, and the Politics of Revenge”; and “Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics After the Religious Right,” just published in January.

The Right Rev. Vashti M. McKenzie, presiding prelate of the 13th Episcopal District and president of the Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E), delivered the baccalaureate address at 11 a.m. May 18 in Wait Chapel.  McKenzie will receive an honorary doctor of divinity degree during commencement.

McKenzie is the highest-ranking woman in the A.M.E. denomination and the first woman elected to lead its Council of Bishops.  She previously served as chief pastor of the 18th Episcopal District in Southeast Africa, where she undertook an ambitious development program that started 37 new churches, constructed many buildings, opened computer labs in schools, provided scholarships to students and helped launch entrepreneurial businesses.

She is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park, and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Howard University School of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.  McKenzie is the author of four books, “Not Without a Struggle,” “Strength in the Struggle,” “Journey to the Well,” and “Swapping Housewives:  Rachel and Jacob and Leah.”

A total of 966 undergraduate students will receive bachelor’s degrees during commencement. A combined 599 graduate and professional school students from Wake Forest’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, School of Law, School of Medicine, Babcock Graduate School of Management and Divinity School will receive degrees.

The commencement ceremony may be viewed live or at a later time via streaming video on the university’s Web site at

Each graduate and professional school held a ceremony to recognize its students’ achievements and present them with their school’s hood prior to commencement. The graduates wear the colorful hoods with their caps and gowns during commencement.

The Graduate School held its hooding ceremony at 3 p.m. May 17 in Wait Chapel. Carol A. Marzetta, who earned her doctorate at Wake Forest in 1986 and is vice president of R&D Strategy Services at Applied Strategies in San Mateo, Calif., delivered the hooding address.

The Divinity School’s hooding ceremony was held at 7 p.m. May 17 in Wait Chapel. Craig D. Atwood, John Comenius Visiting Professor of Moravian Studies in the Wake Forest Divinity School, delivered the hooding address.

The School of Law held its hooding ceremony at 1:45 p.m. May 18 in Wait Chapel. James Talent, former U.S. senator from Missouri and fellow with the Heritage Foundation, delivered the hooding address.  Talent will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree during the commencement ceremony.

The hooding ceremony for the School of Medicine was held at 4:15 p.m. May 18 in Wait Chapel. Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association and professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, delivered the hooding address.  DeAngelis will receive an honorary doctor of science degree during the commencement ceremony.

The Babcock School of Management hooding ceremony was held at 7 p.m. May 18 in Wait Chapel. Richard Noll, chief executive officer of Hanesbrands Inc., delivered the hooding address.  Noll will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree during the commencement ceremony.

An honorary doctor of humane letters degree will also be presented to Robert Wuthnow, Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor of Sociology and director of the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University.

Press Contacts:

Eric Frazier
(336) 758-5237

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237

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