Skip to main content

Duke to Award More Than 4,900 Degrees

Author and journalist Fareed Zakaria will deliver the commencement address for the Class of 2012

Students celebrate at the 2009 commencement ceremony.  Photo by Duke University Photography.
Students celebrate at the 2009 commencement ceremony. Photo by Duke University Photography.

Duke University will award more than 4,900 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees during its annual commencement ceremony Sunday, May 13, in Wallace Wade Stadium.

Duke President Richard H. Brodhead will preside over the 10 a.m. ceremony and Fareed Zakaria, journalist, author and foreign policy advisor, will deliver the commencement address. Parking, traffic and event nformation about commencement weekend can be found here.

The event will be webcast live on Duke's Ustream channel. Twitter users can follow commencement and contribute to the discussion using the Twitter hashtag #DukeGrad12 or share stories from their time on campus using the hashtag #IAmDuke.

The student speaker at commencement is Roshan Sadanani, a member of Duke's debate team who is graduating with a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering. Sadanani was selected by a committee made up of students, alumni, faculty and administrators.

Zakaria also will receive an honorary degree during the ceremony. Other honorary degree recipients are James Barksdale, a business and philanthropic leader; Ambassador Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure; musician Emmylou Harris; Darryl Hunt, a spokesperson for wrongful convictions; and Nobel physicist Robert Richardson.

Aside from Sunday's commencement ceremony, Duke's graduation weekend May 11-13 will be filled with special events held by individual schools, departments and programs to recognize the 2012 graduates.

About 14,000 people are expected to visit the campus to attend the main commencement exercise and other ceremonies, according to Duke's Office of Special Events and University Ceremonies, which oversees graduation weekend planning.

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 $5.8 million, said Shelly Green, CEO of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau.

"Duke's graduation weekend has always been an important event for Durham," Green said. "The thousands of parents, friends and family members who attend leave a substantial economic impact on the community."

The bureau's website has a regularly updated "lodging hotline" -- -- that allows visitors to see which hotels have available rooms during graduation weekend.

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; the parking garage on Science Drive near the Bryan Center; and the Chemistry and Circuit Drive lots, both accessible from Circuit Drive.

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 (Comfort 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. Golf carts are available for transport from the parking lots to the entrances of Wallace Wade for those with mobility concerns.

There also will be campus bus service beginning from East Campus at 8 a.m.

Speakers at other ceremonies include:

-- At 6 p.m. Friday, Owen May, chief executive officer for MD Global Partners, LLC, will speak to The Fuqua School of Business' Master of Management Studies: Foundations of Business class, at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The ceremony is not open to the public. 

-- At 9 a.m. Saturday, J. Steven Young, managing director and co-founder of Huntsman Gay Global Capital, as well as an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback and football analyst, will address graduates of The Duke MBA -- Cross Continent and Weekend Executive programs, at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The ceremony is not open to the public.

-- At 9:15 a.m. Saturday, Tim Mohin, director of corporate responsibility at Advanced Micro Devices and author of "Changing Business from the Inside Out: A Treehugger's Guide to Working in Corporations," will give the address at the Nicholas School of the Environment's Recognition Ceremony, on the Levine Science Research Center (LSRC) lawn. The ceremony is not open to the public.

-- At 10 a.m. Saturday, Duke alumnus Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College, will offer remarks at the Sanford School of Public Policy graduate student ceremony. The ceremony is not open to the public.

-- At 1 p.m. Saturday, David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and managing director of The Carlyle Group, will offer remarks to graduates of The Duke MBA -- Daytime and Ph.D. programs, at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The ceremony is not open to the public.

-- At 5:15 p.m. Saturday, John Paul Stevens, an associate justice for the U.S. Supreme Court, will address graduates 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, the Rev. Sam Wells, dean of Duke Chapel and research professor of Christian ethics at Duke Divinity School, will deliver the 86th baccalaureate service to Divinity School graduates, in Duke Chapel. The service is open to the public and will be webcast live at

Degrees to be conferred:

Degrees will be awarded to about 1,655 undergraduates and 2,208 graduate and professional students who are graduating this spring. An additional 1,093 students who graduated in September or December 2011 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. 761; B.S. 538;-- Pratt School of Engineering -- B.S.E. 273;

-- Nursing -- B.S.N. 83.

Graduate and Professional degrees:

-- Duke Divinity School -- M.Div. 130; Th.M. 15; M.T.S. 23; M.A.C.S. 13; Th.D. 9;

-- Fuqua School of Business -- M.B.A. 441; M.M.S. 110;

-- Graduate School -- M.A. 144; M.S. 121; Ph.D. 160;

-- School of Law -- J.D. 221; LL.M. 121; LL.M.L.E. 17;

-- Nicholas School of the Environment -- M.E.M. 172; M.F. 6;

-- Pratt School of Engineering -- M.Eng.M. 58; M.Eng. 6;

-- Sanford School of Public Policy -- M.I.D.P. 29; M.P.P. 62;

-- School of Medicine -- M.D. 90; M.H.S. 82; M.H.S.-CR 19; D.P.T. 69;

-- School of Nursing -- M.S.N. 60; D.N.P. 30.

For more information on Duke's commencement weekend, visit