Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner to address Wake Forest graduates

By Kevin Cox
March 22, 2006

Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner will serve as Wake Forest University's 2006 commencement speaker, addressing graduates at an outdoor ceremony at 9 a.m. May 15 on the university's Hearn Plaza (Quad).

Mark Warner

The Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor, a religion professor at Piedmont College in Georgia, will deliver the baccalaureate address at 11 a.m. May 14 in Wait Chapel. The commencement and baccalaureate ceremonies are not open to the general public.

Warner, a Democrat who served as Virginia's governor from 2002 to 2006, was featured March 12 on the cover of The New York Times Magazine, which described him as "the bright new star in the constellation of would-be candidates" for president of the United States. Although Warner has yet to decide if he will run, the story states that, "Warner is being mentioned near the top of every list of candidates vying for the (Democratic) nomination in 2008."

According to the Times article, Warner's "80 percent approval rating when he left office (in Virginia) made him one of the most adored governors in the state's history."

In 2005, Virginia was the only state in the nation to earn straight A's in fiscal management from teams of experts and academics assembled by the Pew Charitable Trust and Governing magazine. Warner was named by Time magazine as one of the "5 Best Governors" in 2005, and by Governing magazine as one of its "Public Officials of the Year" in 2004.

Warner has served in a leadership role in several national organizations, including terms as chairman of the National Governors Association, chairman of the Southern Governors' Association, States' co-chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission and chairman of the Education Commission of the States, a national nonpartisan policy organization.

Barbara Brown Taylor

Warner became a key figure in the telecommunications industry in the 1980s, becoming a founding partner of Columbia Capital Corporation, a venture capital fund that started more than 50 telecommunications and information technology companies. As a pioneer in the field of wireless communications, Warner was a co-founder of Nextel Communications.

A native of Indiana, Warner began his political career in 1993 as chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia. He earned a bachelor's degree at George Washington University and a law degree at Harvard University.

Baccalaureate speaker Taylor is an Episcopal priest in Georgia who has published 11 books and written numerous articles for books while pursuing a career that has included serving as a parish priest and teaching. She lives in the foothills of the Appalachians in rural northeast Georgia. In addition to her chaired professorship at Piedmont College in Demorest, Ga., she is an adjunct professor of Christian spirituality at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga.

A native of Indiana, she has been an Episcopal priest since 1984. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in religion at Emory University and a Master of Divinity at Yale Divinity School. Taylor was involved in full-time ministry at churches in Georgia for 15 years before beginning a career in higher education. Earlier, she worked at Emory's Candler School of Theology and Yale Divinity School.

In recent years, she has lectured on preaching at Yale, Princeton and Duke universities, and has preached at churches across the country. She is also a columnist for The Christian Century and an occasional commentator on Georgia Public Radio.

Her most recent book is "Leaving Church." A select list of other books includes "The Seeds of Heaven," "Speaking of Sin," and "The Luminous Web."