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American Express CEO to deliver Wake Forest University's 2010 commencement address


March 22, 2010

Kenneth I. Chenault, the chairman and chief executive officer of American Express Company, will deliver Wake Forest University’s 2010 commencement address on May 17.

The commencement ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. on Hearn Plaza.The ceremony is reserved for graduates and their guests and is not open to the general public.

“Mr. Chenault’s leadership and management values sync well with Wake Forest. He has said that ‘a good education is about more than academics – it’s also about learning values and principles,’” said Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch.

“In his first year as CEO, his leadership was put to an intense test during the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, corporate home to the American Express Company. During this period he dealt with the death of American Express employees at Ground Zero, the post 9/11 devastation of the travel business, and the huge drop in consumer spending.”

Chenault joined American Express in 1981. He was named president and chief operating officer in 1997 and assumed his current responsibilities as chairman and CEO in 2001. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Bowdoin College and his JD from Harvard Law School.

Also during commencement weekend, Bill J. Leonard, the founding dean of Wake Forest’s School of Divinity, will deliver the baccalaureate address on May 16 at 11 a.m. in Wait Chapel. Leonard was named dean in 1996 as the University was developing the divinity school. The school opened in the fall of 1999. He is retiring as dean on June 30, but he will remain on the faculty as chair of Church History in the divinity school and the religion department.

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will hold its hooding ceremony on May 15 at 3 p.m. in Wait Chapel. Timothy M. Persons, the chief scientist of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, will deliver the hooding address. Persons received his master’s degree in computer science in 2000 and his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering in 2001, both from Wake Forest.

The Divinity School will hold its hooding ceremony on May 15 at 7 p.m. in Wait Chapel. Divinity School Dean Bill J. Leonard will deliver the hooding address.

The School of Law will hold its hooding ceremony on May 16 at 1:45 p.m. in Wait Chapel. The hooding address will be given by Lord Nicholas Phillips, one of the most important figures in British law and the first president of the new United Kingdom Supreme Court.

The School of Medicine will hold its Doctor of Medicine hooding ceremony on May 16 at 4:15 p.m. in Wait Chapel. The hooding address will be given by Dr. Thomas S. Inui, president and CEO of the Regenstrief Institute, Inc., and the Sam Regenstrief Professor of Health Services Research and Associate Dean for Health Care Research at Indiana University School of Medicine.

The Graduate Schools of Business will hold its hooding ceremony on May 16 at 7 p.m. in Wait Chapel. David N. Farr, chairman, CEO and president of Emerson, a St. Louis-based Fortune 500 global technology company, will deliver the hooding address. Farr is a 1977 graduate of Wake Forest.

Press Contacts:

Kerry King
(336) 758-6084


Ellen Sterner Sedeno
(214) 546-8893


Kenneth I. Chenault
Kenneth I. Chenault
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Bill J. Leonard
Bill J. Leonard
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