University Announces Commencement Speakers


By: Paige Wearmouth

Approval and excitement is expressed following the announcement that Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan, comedy team and married couple, will speak at the Commencement ceremony of the Class of 2016 at The Catholic University of America on May 14th.

The university’s office of Marketing and Communications made the announcement to the Catholic University community through email on Monday, March 21st. The email included some biographical information about the Gaffigans along with statements from university President John Garvey.                                                                                                                                              
In the email, Garvey said he was pleased to host the Gaffigans at Catholic University. He believes their model of “the great adventure of marriage,” which is a frequent topic in their comedy, as well as their Catholic faith will send a positive message to the graduates.

“I have no doubt that the graduates will be inspired by the Gaffigans’ commitment to their Catholic faith, which shapes both their personal and professional vocations,” Garvey said.

Many seniors, who are preparing for graduation in May, showed satisfaction with the university’s choice of speakers for their commencement.
“I’m not too familiar with him personally, but I’ve heard good things. I’m glad that we will have an entertaining and practiced speaker though. I’m looking forward to hear what he has to say,” said Christian Bernier, a senior architecture major.

“Hopefully, his presence at the commencement will be memorable, good-natured, and of course appropriate given the occasion,” said Brian Billion, a senior piano performance major.

The speaker of the 2015 commencement ceremony was author, Mary Higgins Clark. In the previous year, the commencement speaker was NFL quarterback, Philip Rivers. Some students believe this year’s choice is somewhat of a step up from the previous speakers in terms of recognition and notability.

“I’m surprised we were able to pull someone as A-list as him and his wife and I’m excited we have a comedian this year who are, in my opinion, the only people who should be giving commencement speeches,” said Will Miller, a senior anthropology major, referring to the Gaffigans.

William Jonas, the university’s Assistant Vice President for University Relations, said the selection of the commencement speaker is ultimately decided by Garvey, but he does take many opinions and suggestions into consideration.

“He [Garvey] consults broadly with students, alumni, Trustees, parents, University leaders, etc,” Jonas said. “During these consultations he looks for speakers who are illustrative of the University’s mission and values, people who can be and are good role models, and people whose values and actions are congruent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

The email announcement from the Office of Management and Communications also said that the commencement address for the Columbus School of Law will be given by Paul Clement, a former United States Solicitor General, on May 27th.

Both Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan will receive honorary doctoral degrees in Fine Arts while Clement will receive an honorary Doctor of Law degree.

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