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Wake Forest's 2009 graduating class prepares for commencement address by Vice President Biden


May 1, 2009

Wake Forest University’s 2009 graduating class is preparing for a commencement address by Vice President Joe Biden, who will be the first sitting vice president to deliver a commencement address at Wake Forest. 

Biden will speak and receive an honorary doctor of laws degree in an outdoor ceremony on Hearn Plaza beginning at 9 a.m. May 18.  More than 1,500 graduating students and up to 10 times that many guests are expected to attend the graduation exercises, which cap off a series of events held during the preceding commencement weekend.

The Rev. Barbara K. Lundblad, Joe R. Engle Professor of Preaching at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, will deliver the baccalaureate address at 11 a.m. May 17 in Wait Chapel. Wake Forest will award Lundblad an honorary doctor of divinity degree during the May 18 ceremony.

The commencement and baccalaureate ceremonies are not open to the general public. Tickets are reserved for graduates and their guests.  Parking passes and tickets are required to enter campus May 18 and attend commencement.  The commencement ceremony may be viewed live or at a later time via streaming video on the university’s Web site at www.wfu.edu/commencement.

In addition to Biden and Lundblad, six other individuals will receive honorary degrees during Wake Forest’s commencement ceremony.  Frank Brown Holding, executive vice chairman and director of First Citizens Bank and Trust Co. of South Carolina, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree.  Allen Joines, mayor of the City of Winston-Salem, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree.  Dr. Richard David Krugman, vice-chancellor for health affairs, dean and professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, will receive an honorary doctor of science degreeJohn Willard “Bill” Marriott Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Marriott International, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree.  A posthumous honorary doctor of humane letters degree will be awarded to the late Tim Russert, who was scheduled to be the 2009 Wake Forest commencement speaker but died unexpectedly of a heart-attack in June 2008.  Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, the 42nd U.S. Army surgeon general, will receive an honorary doctor of science degree.

Wake Forest’s 2009 graduating class is projected to be 1,814 students, including some whose degrees were conferred during the academic year in August and December 2008.  They are invited to participate in the outdoor ceremony with about 1,500 May graduates, of which 941 are undergraduates and more than 550 are graduate and professional students from Wake Forest’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, School of Divinity, School of Law, School of Medicine and Schools of Business. 

Each graduate and professional school will hold 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 the commencement ceremony.

The Graduate School will hold its hooding ceremony at 3 p.m. May 16 in Wait Chapel. Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker will deliver the hooding address.

The hooding ceremony for the School of Divinity will be at 7 p.m. May 16 in Wait Chapel. B. Diane Lipsett, assistant professor of New Testament and Christian origins at the Wake Forest School of Divinity, will deliver the hooding address.

The School of Law will hold its hooding ceremony at 1:45 p.m. May 17 in Wait Chapel. Former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr., who received his law degree from Wake Forest in 1982, will deliver the hooding address.

The School of Medicine’s hooding ceremony for those receiving the doctor of medicine degree will be at 4:15 p.m. May 17 in Wait Chapel. Dr. Richard David Krugman will deliver the hooding address.  A hooding ceremony for those receiving the Master of Medical Science degree will be at 6 p.m. May 17 in Babcock Auditorium on the Bowman Gray campus.  Program Director James Van Rhee will deliver the hooding address.

The hooding ceremony for graduate business programs of the Schools of Business will be at 7 p.m. May 17 in Wait Chapel. J.W. Marriott will deliver the hooding address.

Note to Editors: Please contact the News Service no later than May 8 to request gate passes, parking instructions and media credentials for commencement.  Credentials will be mailed to media outlets during the week prior to the event.  Due to security measures that will be in place for the vice president’s visit, media arrangements are subject to change.  Please provide contact information for each media representative who will attend the ceremony, and check the New Service Web site, www.wfu.edu/wfunews, frequently for advisories and updates.

Press Contacts:

Eric Frazier
(336) 758-5237


Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237


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