The University of Michigan announced Thursday that seven-time New York Times best-selling author Maria Shriver will give the commencement address at the 2022 Spring commencement ceremony on April 30. Additionally, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the U.S. President, will be speaking at a “comeback ceremony” in honor of the class of 2020 on May 7. Both ceremonies will be in-person at Michigan Stadium.
Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California, will be speaking at the Rackham Graduate Exercises on April 29 at Hill Auditorium. Interim University President Mary Sue Coleman has recommended all three speakers receive honorary degrees along with Berry Gordy, Thomas Holt and William Martin. These recommendations will be considered by the Board of Regents on March 24.
Shriver, an Emmy and Peabody award-winning journalist, will be the main speaker at the April 2022 graduation ceremony. She has been recommended for an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Shriver is also a NBC News special anchor, founder of Shriver Media — a media enterprise which promotes the power of media to do good — and co-founder of MOSH, a brain health and wellness brand.
According to her website, Shriver is an advocate for women and women’s health, and has focused her efforts on raising awareness about women’s increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. She founded The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, which has partnered with The Cleveland Clinic to launch the first Alzheimer’s disease prevention center for women. Shriver also worked to eradicate poverty on behalf of women and their families as first lady of California from 2003-2010.
As the leading infectious disease expert in the U.S., Fauci has acted as a public health advisor to every U.S. President since Ronald Reagan, serving under six different administrations in total. He also currently serves as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
In 2008, Fauci was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, for his work in treating HIV/AIDS. Facui last presented at the University in 2017 when he spoke about controlling epidemics at a U-M infectious disease panel.
Fauci currently serves as a liaison between the U.S. government and the American public about the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to his work as a practicing physician and medical researcher. At White House press briefings, Facui discusses the development of COVID-19 variants, the efficacy of masks and vaccines and treatment possibilities.
During the height of the pandemic in 2020, the University canceled in-person Spring commencement, as well as Winter commencement, and opted to celebrate 2020 graduates virtually. Last year in May 2021, graduates in the class of 2021 had the option to view the virtual commencement ceremony online or in-person at Michigan Stadium, though attendance was restricted to just the graduating class.
The Winter 2021 commencement returned to a more conventional format, with graduates and their families allowed to celebrate in-person together. Spring 2022 commencement will follow suit; however, for the first time, the University is hosting a “comeback ceremony” for any U-M alumni, and their families, who graduated during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years, as well as those who graduated in the Fall 2021 term.
University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald wrote in an email to The Michigan Daily that the University has been planning to invite students who were unable to attend an in-person graduation ceremony back to campus for a while. Fitzgerald wrote that the University is confident that the Big House — with the capacity to seat 107, 601 individuals — will be able to accommodate any alumni who wish to attend the comeback ceremony, along with their guests.
“It has always been the university’s plan to invite these graduates back to campus to celebrate their achievements when it was safe to do so,” Fitzgerald wrote. “We look forward to welcoming back our alumni and providing them (with) a commencement experience that wasn’t possible during the height of the pandemic.”