Array of speakers to address graduating students

Graduation season at the University of California, Berkeley, is under way, and is expected to draw dozens of erudite speakers to the campus through the end of May. Among those imparting wisdom to thousands of graduating students will be scholar and activist Angela Davis; Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, the former mayor of Mexico City; Google chief economist Hal Varian and green jobs champion Cecilia Estolano.

Tiffany Shlain

Tiffany Shlain, Commencement Convocation keynote speaker

This Sunday, May 16, Commencement Convocation — an annual, campus-wide ceremony honoring all graduating seniors — will begin at 2 p.m. at the Walter A. Haas Jr. Pavilion. This year’s keynote speaker is Tiffany Shlain, acclaimed filmmaker and founder of the Webby Awards. A UC Berkeley alumna and former student ambassador to the old Soviet Union, Shlain was named one of Newsweek’s “Women Shaping the 21st Century.”

The event will begin with a procession of students and faculty in colorful regalia. As is customary, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau will address the graduates and their families. No diplomas are awarded at this event. At least 1,200 seniors are expected to attend. Previously, convocation was held at the Greek Theatre, but with more than 11,000 tickets sold this year, and with the ceremony being held on a weekend and after final exams, organizers decided to move it to Haas Pavilion, which seats 11,500.

In this video, Shlain asks the class of 2010 from all over the world to upload short videos to YouTube describing their vision for the future. She will make a short video of selected pieces to be showcased on YouTube and in her feature film in production, Connected.

Among the student speakers at convocation will be top graduating senior Joshua Biddle, an integrative biology major whose scholarship, public service and amazing life trajectory won him the University Medal, which he will receive there. His 100-year-old Great-aunt Velma is scheduled to attend the ceremony. For more about Joshua Biddle, click here.

At least 10,000 UC Berkeley students are set to receive diplomas this month at nearly 100 ceremonies being sponsored by the campus’s individual departments, colleges and units. Approximately 6,800 bachelor’s degrees and more than 3,000 master’s, doctoral and professional degrees will be conferred.

At the Department of Ethnic Studies ceremony at Zellerbach Playhouse on May 20, officials will bestow honorary degrees to the families of 11 Japanese-Americans whose studies were cut short when they were sent to internment camps during World War II. Of the four honorees still living, two — Saburo Hori and Sachi Kajiwara — are expected to attend the ceremony. They were located as part of the California Nisei College Diploma Project, which resulted in at least 50 Japanese-American survivors of detention camps receiving honorary degrees at UC Berkeley last December.

Addressing graduates of public policy on May 15 at International House will be UC Berkeley national-security expert Michael Nacht, former dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy, who played a key role in shaping nuclear weaponry policy for the Obama administration.

Below are highlights of graduation speakers at UC Berkeley this month:

Friday, May 14

Richard Blum, UC regent and founder of the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He will speak to MBA graduates at 2 p.m. at the Greek Theatre.

Saturday, May 15

  • Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, president of the Fundación para la Democracia in Mexico, cofounder of the Partido de la Revolución Democrática and former mayor of Mexico City. He will speak to graduates of geography at 9 a.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse.
  • Tim Brown, CEO and president of IDEO. He will speak to graduates of the School of Information at 2 p.m. at the Campanile Esplanade.
  • JoAnne Stubbe, Novartis Professor of Chemistry and professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who will address graduates of chemistry at 2 p.m. at Zellerbach Auditorium.

Sunday, May 16

  • Tiffany Shlain, filmmaker and founder of the Webby Awards. She will deliver the keynote speech at Commencement Convocation at 2 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.
  • Arun Sarin, the retired chief executive of Vodafone. He will address graduates of engineering at 8:30 a.m. at the Greek Theatre.

Monday, May 17

  • Cecilia Estolano, head of Green for All, which advocates for environmental jobs, who will address graduates of the College of Environmental Design at 2 p.m. at the Greek Theatre.
  • Helen Quinn, professor of physics at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. She will speak to graduates of physics and astronomy at 7 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall.
  • Joanna Haigood, dance pioneer, teacher and artistic director of Zaccho Dance Theatre. She will speak to graduates of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies at 2 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse.

Tuesday, May 18

  • Brian Tucker, president of GeoHazards International. He will speak to graduates of Earth and Planetary Sciences at 1:30 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse.

Saturday, May 22

  • Margaret Wilkerson, UC Berkeley professor emerita, former chair of African American Studies and former chair of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies, will speak to graduates of African American Studies at 2 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall.
  • Sir Michael Marmot, professor of epidemiology and public health at University College, London, and director of the International Institute for Society and Health, will address graduates of public health at 9 a.m. at Zellerbach Hall.
    Please click here for a complete listing of graduation ceremonies.