News Releases

USC Announces Commencement Speaker, Honorary Degree Recipients

April 02, 2010

May 14 Event to Honor Bratton, Hood, Li, Mogae, Salonen; Address to be Delivered by Retiring President Sample

LOS ANGELES — April 2, 2010 — The University of Southern California‘s 127th annual commencement on May 14 will feature an address by USC President Steven B. Sample on the occasion of his retirement. At the event, five noted leaders will receive honorary doctorates: William J. Bratton, John Hood, Ting-Kai Li, Festus G. Mogae, and Esa-Pekka Salonen.

More than 40,000 graduates and their families are expected to fill Alumni Park and the sites of 34 satellite ceremonies. More than 10,000 degrees will be conferred at the commencement, including about 475 Ph.D.s.

“Students take their place in a long procession of Trojans, stretching back through the years to USC’s first commencement in 1884 – and indeed, back to the day in 1880 when USC first opened its doors,” said Sample.

Degree candidates, Half-Century Trojans, faculty and distinguished guests will form a processional leaving Bovard Auditorium at 8:30 a.m. Sample will preside over the main 9 a.m. ceremony in Alumni Park.

Honorary degree recipients represent a global set of civic, academic, and arts leaders:

William J. Bratton
L.A.’s former police chief. Law enforcement executive whose innovations and leadership reduced crime in three major American cities. Builder of bridges between the L.A.P.D. and the city’s diverse communities.

John Hood
Visionary leader in higher education and in global business. Former vice chancellor of the University of Auckland and of the University of Oxford.

Ting-Kai Li
Professor, physician, and pioneering scientist. Influential scholar and national health advisor who transformed societal attitudes about alcoholism as the first researcher to demonstrate its genetic roots.

Festus G. Mogae
Past president of Botswana. Tireless leader in building his country into a model of democracy and good governance, and in combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa.

Esa-Pekka Salonen
Preeminent composer, conductor, and advocate of contemporary music. Principal conductor and artistic advisor of the London-based Philharmonia Orchestra. Former music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The university also will honor valedictorian Liana Ching and salutatorians Natasha Naik and Lisa Werth.

The Baccalaureate Ceremony for USC degree candidates and their families will be held on May 13 in Bovard Auditorium. Reverend Karen Tse, Founder and CEO, International Bridges to Justice, will deliver the keynote ceremony at the multifaith service. The Baccalaureate Dinner will follow at 6:30 p.m. on Pardee Way.

The Chicano/Latino Celebration, the African-American Cultural Celebration and the Asian Pacific Graduate Celebration will be held at 8 p.m. on May 13 at Howard Jones Field, in Bovard Auditorium and on the lawn south of Watt Hall, respectively.

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Contact: James Grant (213) 740-6156 or