Duke University will award more than 4,400 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees during its annual commencement ceremony in Wallace Wade Stadium on Sunday, May 10. Duke President Richard H. Brodhead will preside over the 10 a.m. ceremony, and media entrepreneur and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey will deliver the commencement address. The ceremony is free and open to the public.
The event also will be webcast live at http://live.oit.duke.edu/. This site will feature a real-time Twitter feed, where Twitter users and members of the public can follow and contribute to the discussion about commencement using the Twitter hashtag #dukegrad09.
Winfrey will also receive an honorary degree. Other honorary degree recipients are economist-educator Susan Athey, Nobel geneticists Michael Brown and Joseph Goldstein (a team who will receive one degree), higher education leader James Moeser, Nobel chemist Mario Molina, business executive Indra Nooyi and pianist Murray Perahia.
The student speaker is Robert Paul Jones, who will receive his doctor of medicine degree. Jones, a 2002 Duke graduate, was selected from one of the largest pools in years by a committee made up of students, alumni, faculty and administrators.
The gates to Wallace Wade will open at 8 a.m. on May 10. Traffic will be heavy and guests should allow plenty of time for parking. The procession for the ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. and the service will conclude by 11:30 a.m. Distribution of diplomas will take place at individual departmental or school ceremonies following commencement. Aside from Sunday's commencement ceremony, Duke's graduation weekend May 8-10 will be filled with special events held by individual schools, departments and programs to recognize the 2009 graduates. About 16,000 people are typically expected to visit the campus to attend the main commencement exercise and other ceremonies. The Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau estimates the economic impact of graduation weekend on Durham -- through sales of food, hotel rooms, retail items, gasoline, car rentals and entertainment -- will be about $7.4 million, said Shelly Green, CEO-elect of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Graduations are always a great time of year, not only for economic impact but because they showcase Durham to some very important visitors," she said. "This year it's even more important because many visitor-related businesses like restaurants, retail and lodging are down 20 percent or more." The bureau's website has a regularly updated "lodging hotline" -- http://www.durham-nc.info/LH/events.asp?EID=117 -- that allows visitors to see which hotels have available rooms during graduation weekend. (May 10 is also Mother's Day and graduation day at the nearby University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.) In light of the H1N1 influenza outbreak, Duke officials are taking special precautions this year. These include ensuring the availability of hand sanitizers, providing information about the flu for graduates and visitors and anticipating possible health care needs during the busy weekend. More information about Duke's preparations can be found at www.duke.edu/flu2009. On Duke's campus, additional police officers and event staff will assist with traffic and parking. Free parking will be provided throughout campus on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Nearly all campus lots, including gated facilities, will be open, but some of the lots on the east side of Wallace Wade Stadium will be restricted. Parking is recommended in the lot on Frank Bassett Drive off Science Drive; the Science Drive visitors lot between Highway 751 and Towerview Drive; the lot at the corner of 751 and Science Drive; the Blue Zone lots on the east side of the stadium off Duke University Road; and Parking Garage IV, on Science Drive near the Bryan Center. On Sunday, Duke Transportation will provide shuttle buses to Wallace Wade from area hotels, including the Millennium, the Durham Marriott at the Civic Center, the Courtyard (Hampton Inn guests can walk across the street to take the shuttle) and the Hilton (Quality Inn guests can walk across the parking lot to the shuttle). The shuttle service will begin at 8 a.m. Sunday and run every 20 minutes until 1 p.m. The Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club has its own shuttle service beginning at 7:30 a.m. It also will run until 1 p.m. There will be accessible transportation from the lots adjacent to Wallace Wade for guests using wheelchairs and their families. There also will be campus bus service beginning from East Campus at 8:30 a.m. Speakers at other ceremonies Individual graduate and professional schools also will bring notable speakers to campus to address their graduates in special ceremonies. The events are open to the public, unless otherwise noted: -- At 7 p.m. Friday in Duke Chapel, Drs. Michael Brown and Joseph Goldstein, recipients of the 1985 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, will give the address at the Hippocratic Oath Ceremony for medical school graduates. -- At 9:15 a.m. Saturday, environmental entrepreneur Randy Repass, founder and chairman of West Marine, Inc., the world's largest boating supply retailer, will speak to graduates of the Nicholas School of the Environment in a ceremony on the Levine Science Research Center (LSRC) lawn. An undergraduate recognition ceremony will be held at noon Sunday on the LSRC courtyard. Neither ceremony is open to the public. -- At 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Harsha V. Agadi, president and chief executive officer of Church's Chicken, will address the daytime MBA graduates from the Fuqua School of Business at Cameron Indoor Stadium. At 2 p.m. Saturday, Ron Nicol, chair of Boston Consulting Group's Global Practices, will speak to graduates of The Duke MBA -- Cross Continent and Duke Goethe Executive MBA programs, also at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Neither ceremony is open to the public. -- At 6 p.m. Saturday, David B. Sentelle, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, will speak at the Law School's hooding ceremony in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The ceremony is not open to the public. -- At 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sam Wells, dean of Duke Chapel and research professor of Christian Ethics at Duke Divinity School, will deliver the 83rd baccalaureate service to Divinity School graduates in Duke Chapel. The service will be webcast live at http://www.duke.edu/web/chapel/.
Degrees to be conferred Degrees will be awarded to about 1,558 undergraduates and about 1,919 graduate and professional students who are graduating this spring. An additional 992 students who graduated in September or December 2008 are also invited to participate in Sunday's commencement. The estimated degree breakdowns for the May graduates are as follows: Undergraduate degrees: Trinity College of Arts and Sciences -- A.B. 799; B.S. 492; Pratt School of Engineering -- B.S.E. 267;
Graduate and Professional degrees: School of Nursing -- M.S.N. 80;
Pratt School of Engineering -- M.Eng.M. 55; School of Medicine -- M.H.S. 63; M.H.S.-CR 22; M.D. 108; D.P.T. 60; Nicholas School of the Environment -- M.E.M. 101; M.F. 1; Duke Divinity School -- M.Div. 109; Th.M. 15; M.T.S. 23; Fuqua School of Business -- M.B.A. 574; M.M.S. 4;
School of Law -- J.D. 214; LL.M. 98;
Graduate School -- M.A. 136; M.S. 71; M.P.P. 40; Ph.D. 144.
For more information on Duke's commencement weekend, visit http://web.duke.edu/commencement/.