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News Release

January 15, 2010

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice will be Stanford's 2010 Commencement speaker

Susan E. Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, a member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet and a national security advisor, will be the 2010 Commencement speaker at Stanford University.

Stanford's 119th Commencement Weekend, which is scheduled June 11-13, also will feature a Class Day lecture by philosophy Professor Debra Satz and a Baccalaureate address by Eboo Patel, a member of President Barack Obama's faith advisory council and founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core.

Susan Rice, '86

Ambassador Rice was unanimously confirmed as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations in January 2009 after being nominated by President Barack Obama. From February 2007 to November 2008, Rice served as a Senior Advisor for National Security Affairs on the Obama for America campaign. From 1997 to 2001, she was the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. From 1995 to 1997, she served as Special Assistant to President William J. Clinton and was Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House.

"Ambassador Rice was chosen to represent America at the United Nations in order to advance international peace and security, strengthen human rights and support democracy," said university President John Hennessy. "Her goals mirror those of Stanford: to tackle the most pressing global challenges, including addressing climate change and combating poverty, disease and violence to promote peace. I am proud that a Stanford alumna is in this vital international role, and I know she will challenge our graduates to embark on meaningful lives as our next generation of leaders."

Ambassador Rice has long been involved in political, economic, security and humanitarian issues. As Assistant Secretary, she formulated and implemented overall U.S. policy for 48 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and oversaw the management of 43 U.S. Embassies. Rice was co-recipient of the White House’s 2000 Samuel Nelson Drew Memorial Award for distinguished contributions to the formation of peaceful, cooperative relationships between states. She served as the Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping on the National Security Council staff from 1993 until 1995. Rice was also a management consultant with McKinsey and Company and served on numerous boards, including the National Democratic Institute, the Partnership for Public Service and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

Senior Class Presidents Walter Foxworth, Dan Ha, Ansaf Kareem and Aria Florant said that Rice's Stanford connection and position of global significance would be most welcome at the Commencement ceremony.

"We are thrilled that Ambassador Rice will return to Stanford to share her perspective on some of the greatest challenges facing the world," the Class Presidents said in a joint statement. "She is in a position of international leadership with a record of service promoting peace and humanity. Every one of us will benefit from hearing how we can similarly go forth and make a difference in the world with a Stanford education."

Ambassador Rice earned a bachelor's degree in history from Stanford in 1986. She was a Truman Scholar and graduated junior Phi Beta Kappa. She received her M.Phil. (master’s degree) and D.Phil. (PhD) in International Relations from New College, Oxford University, England, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.

Senior Class Day speaker

A 30-year Commencement Weekend tradition, Senior Class Day features a "final lecture" from a renowned Stanford professor. This year Debra Satz, professor of philosophy, the Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society and director of the Bowen H. McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, will give the lecture. She received the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching, Stanford’s highest teaching award, in 2004.

Satz's research has focused on the ethical limits of markets, the place of equality in political philosophy, theories of rational choice, democratic theory, feminist philosophy and issues of international justice. Her work has appeared in Philosophy & Public Affairs, Ethics, Journal of Philosophy and World Bank Economic Review. Satz has authored a soon-to-be published book, Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale: The Limits of Markets.

"Her classes on ethics and moral justice have inspired many of us, and we are so pleased that our entire class will benefit from her wisdom in our final lecture as Stanford undergraduates," the Class Presidents said. The Stanford Alumni Association presents the Class Day Lecture.

Baccalaureate speaker

Speaking at the Baccalaureate ceremony will be Eboo Patel, a member of the Obama administration's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. A Muslim born in India and raised in Chicago, he founded the Interfaith Youth Core in 1998 to inspire and train college students to build understanding. He serves as executive director of the Chicago-based international nonprofit.

Patel, 33, is the author of a Washington Post blog, "The Faith Divide," which explores what drives faiths apart and what brings them together. He is the author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation. Patel serves on the Religious Advisory Committee of the Council on Foreign Relations. Patel has a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for his undergraduate studies.

"We believe Eboo Patel's lifelong work to encourage religious tolerance and to prompt young people to take action will inspire all of us to make a difference," the Senior Class Presidents said.

The Rev. Scotty McLennan, dean for religious life, said he was pleased that Patel will bring his messages about how to bridge wide-ranging beliefs to Stanford's diverse, multifaith community.

"Eboo Patel promotes religious pluralism and believes that all college campuses should be models of interfaith cooperation," McLennan said. "He advocates creating communities where the human connection transcends differences of race, religion and culture, building on unique strengths with a vision of the common good. He will energize our graduates as they go out to serve the world."

Stanford's 119th Commencement, Senior Class Day lecture and Baccalaureate ceremonies are part of a celebration for graduates, their families and friends, and members of the Stanford community. The Baccalaureate ceremony will be held on the Main Quad, and the Senior Class Day lecture will be held in Maples Pavilion, both on Saturday, June 12. Commencement will be held in the Stanford Stadium on Sunday, June 13.


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