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Names you know big-time, and maybe some you don’t — the Commencement lineup revealed

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09-1358-SENIORBREK-010.jpg

The scene at this morning's Senior Breakfast. Photo by Vernon Doucette

“You are my freshman class,” BU President Robert A. Brown this morning told the largest gathering of students ever to attend a Senior Breakfast. “We began together at Boston University.”

Bond well-established, Brown revealed the identity of this year’s Commencement speaker, Baccalaureate speaker, honorary degree recipients, and the winners of the University’s highest teaching awards, the Metcalf Cup and Prize and Awards for Teaching Excellence.

U.S. Congressman Michael E. Capuano (right) will deliver the 2009 Commencement address at the University’s 136th Commencement exercises on Sunday, May 17.

Capuano, a Democrat, represents the Eighth District of Massachusetts, comprising Cambridge, Somerville, Chelsea, and nearly two-thirds of Boston. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

First elected to Congress in 1998, the graduate of Dartmouth College and Boston College Law School is considered one of Congress’ strongest advocates for increased international funding. He also is widely credited with helping focus attention on atrocities and genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.

That wasn’t the only big news Brown shared this morning.

Minister and physician Gloria E. White-Hammond, who has spent decades working in Boston’s inner city community, will deliver the Commencement Day Baccalaureate address at 11 a.m. at Marsh Chapel, and also will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

The list of additional honorary degree recipients caused the most stir:

Filmmaker Steven Spielberg, Doctor of Humane Letters.

Celtics legend Larry Bird, Doctor of Letters.

Alan Leventhal, CEO of Beacon Capital Partners and former chair of the BU Board of Trustees, Doctor of Laws.

J Allard (CAS’91), senior vice president of Microsoft Corporation, Doctor of Letters.

Zhang Yimou, director of the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, Doctor of Humane Letters.

And this year for the first time, Brown also announced at Senior Breakfast the three faculty winners of the Metcalf Cup and Prize and Metcalf Awards for Excellence in Teaching, the highest teaching honors the University bestows. Winners are nominated by the students they have taught.

Metcalf Cup and Prize: Tom Gilmore, a professor of biology at the College of Arts & Sciences.

Metcalf Cup and Prize: Michelle LaCourse, an associate professor of music (viola) and chair of the string department at the College of Fine Arts School of Music.

Metcalf Award: Peter Busher, a professor and chairman of the division of natural science at the College of General Studies.

All three will be profiled here on BU Today starting Monday, so check back for intimate visits with great teachers.

And as the week unfolds, we’ll be visiting one-on-one with our honorary degree recipients too — an eclectic and intriguing group.

39 Comments

39 Comments on Word Out!

  • LKJ on 05.01.2009 at 1:58 am

    Student Speakers

    I hope one day, the administration will have the foresight to select student speakers who are as talented and articulate as the senior class they are supposed to represent.

    This is a great university.

    We are taught by daring, creative professors, and we have learned to write and speak like adults. What an inspiration it would be if BU offered us a speech that didn’t trivialize the education we received here.

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 10:15 am

    RE: Student Speakers

    Well said

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 11:20 am

    Well said, but apparently not listed to.

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 11:52 am

    re: Student Speakers

    I think that the speaker BU chose for our commencement doesn’t “trivialize” our education here. Just because some pop-culture or sports-culture “icon” isn’t speaking at our graduation does not in fact mean that the guy who is speaking won’t have just as profound things to say. In fact, I think the selection of Michael Capuano enforces the fact that we are so integrated with the Boston community. In addition, perhaps thinking that it does “trivialize” our education by selecting a U.S. Congressman means that those who think so don’t pay enough attention to local politics, which are what allow us to successfully finish BU in part.

  • Concerned Student on 05.01.2009 at 11:53 am

    RE: Student Speakers

    Having specific and thorough information regarding the so-called “transparent” process of student speaker selection at the University, I am equally disappointed, but, unfortunately, unsurprised, by the unabashed political favoritism shown in the decisions made.

    It is a shame and an embarrassment.

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 12:06 pm

    What happened to Anderson Cooper? I thought he was supposed to speak at commencement…

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 12:07 pm

    So we’re giving an honorary degree to the guy who decided the little girl in the opening ceremonies was too ugly to be on tv? That’s a little superficial even by BU standards.

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 12:35 pm

    very dissapointing

    I was overall dissapointed by President Brown’s inability to articulate or use a power point. The main theme of his entire speech was the Men’s Hockey team and which car to buy Coach Parker, instead of the rest of the class of ’09. I thought we deserved better. A speaker anyone had heard of would’ve been great too. The dissapointed sighs were the first response from the student body upon the announcement.

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 12:39 pm

    I think the first post was referring to student speakers from colleges, not Mr. Capuano, the university-wide speaker for commencement.

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 12:51 pm

    World Renowned University?

    Sure, he’s a Congressman from Mass, but most BU students aren’t even from the region! BU, by nature, is made of pop-culture starved students. Bring someone from Apple, Prada or the Huffington Post and they’ll be happy.

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 12:57 pm

    What happened to Anderson Cooper??

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 12:58 pm

    anyone else think this guy looks like robin williams?

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 1:08 pm

    While Michael Capuano may not “trivialize” our education here by being an “icon,” is it so much to ask for a “icon” who might not “trivialize” our education? :(

  • J on 05.01.2009 at 1:19 pm

    We can't get a better speaker than this?

    Seriously, we couldn’t even get Barney Frank? At least the parents of out-of-state students would recognize his name. Lame, BU, lame.

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 1:33 pm

    do those given honorary degrees speak or even attend?

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 1:40 pm

    I'm embarrassed

    I am once again disappointed with the way President Brown’s comments (at the Senior Breakfast) demonstrate how he is out of touch with the students of Boston University.

    Seriously, I would think that a university of our size and influence would be able to get someone other than a congressman.

    To be perfectly honest, I feel like this is a slap in the face to the members of the senior class. I’m actually sort of embarrassed to go to BU right now.

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 1:44 pm

    Check out Capuano’s videos on youtube. They’re quite stirring.

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=michael+capuano&search=Search

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 1:48 pm

    Whose been a good supporter of the BU biolab in Congress, sometimes against concerns of your constituency? That’s right, you have. Now here is a treat.

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 2:33 pm

    BC?

    Not to mention that Capuano is a BC alum!!!! A BC alum giving a commencement speech at BU does not make any sense, does it?

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 3:55 pm

    This is the kind of guy that would speak at UMass-Boston, not BU. Enough with these “hometown” guys like Lucchino and Capuano. BU is an internationally-renown university, and should reflect that. Where did this news about Anderson Cooper come from?

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 4:12 pm

    Just another letdown

    I agree with the other comment… President Brown’s pathetic joke of rewarding Coach Parker with a Hummer, limo or Mini Cooper when there is a hiring freeze, financial aid is decreasing and students are struggling to pay tuition was a show of poor judgment. Besides today and matriculation, I had never heard Brown speak or attempt to involve himself in student activities. It obviously showed this morning when he was unable to captivate his audience.

    As for the commencement speaker: For four years, BU repeatedly told us to strive and be the “best” we can be. The “best” they could do for a commencement speaker is a Congressman from Massachusetts, who conveniently is a supporter of the BU biolab in the South End?

    If BU is supposed to be in the top 30 schools like the class gift committee said, the school could start by getting a speaker graduating students actually know and will like. You will get money from happy, satisfied graduates. Not disappointed ones.

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 4:33 pm

    BU Should be ASHAMED!

    With all the alumni connections that we have, with the size of our university, with the Nobel Prize winners at this university and among our alumni base, we couldn’t event get someone a little bit more influential to speak at this year’s commencement? They could have even asked Elie Wiesel if they didn’t want to do too much legwork to find a decent commencement speaker! A university of our size and the number of connections that we have, and this is what we GET?? That is SHAMEFUL!! I would even be much more satisfied with having Glora E. White-Hammond as our commencement speakers because of all the remarkable things she has been involved in, not some no-name congressman that no one has even heard of!

    SHAMEFUL!!!

  • Urgh on 05.01.2009 at 4:38 pm

    Sophomore Hoping BU will get its act together!!

    How on earth can you market our school as ‘Captain Diversity’ with every state and scores of countries represented and then pull out some no name congressman from down the street. REALLY!? Put some effort into it. Does BU really have ZERO clout?!!!!

    Why dont you try pulling in someone that people want to listen to.

  • Research on 05.01.2009 at 4:44 pm

    Zhang Yimou is a famous director and cinematographer. He has done much more with his career than direct the Olympic ceremonies.

    A simple google search would have shown that.

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 5:08 pm

    Laughter

    The room burst into laughter as they put this on the screen. We were all amused, then embarassed. I’m entirely not surprised by this, but saddened. Although, this is a very typical BU ending to a four years here…

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 5:49 pm

    This is the biggest disappointment I have ever felt at this school. We are supposed to be one of the top universities in the country and yet the only speaker we can get is a congressmen no one has heard of, or cares about. This shows the blatant disregard our dean has for the senior class and students that make it up. Arizona State, a school that I’m pretty sure does not even compare to BU, has President Obama for their speaker, which makes our speaker seem even more ridiculous. This does not mean our university needs to give us a pop icon like Britney spears to speak, but it is possible to get someone that is not only smart and engaging but that does not prompt boos from seniors at their senior breakfast. This is a disgrace and President Brown should be ashamed at how little he cares about his students.

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 6:17 pm

    TV's in the Back of the cafe`

    The whole thing was disappointing and sad. As I watched the ceremony on TV’s in the back of the cafeteria, with hundreds of other students I have never seen before, hearing about giving away cars, students making jokes about not having a job, its like — just give me my diploma. Big-ups to all of our CV’S and Not to the ceremony.

  • Anonymous on 05.01.2009 at 6:36 pm

    I don’t get it, what does it take for this pathetic administration to actually listen to students? Mr. Brown is hardly a campus presence and unless something shockingly has to do with sports, he doesn’t appear interested in anything students do. I wouldn’t know him if I fell over him, and the recent choice to pick a hometown unknown only reconfirms this. People want to be inspired and engaged by someone they recognize at a commencement ceremony. Its ridiculous that Boston University can’t get someone with some notoriety when every other school that is on our level has people that are way better. You want my money when I graduate? start earning it

  • Anonymous on 05.02.2009 at 1:23 am

    President Brown is a real let down. LET DOWN. The whole senior breakfast was a LET DOWN. President Brown’s speech was inappropriate and offensive. Give us money, or dig us out of debt before kissing jack parker’s ass. Just because the national championship was good for the name of the school, that didn’t need to be the focus of the whole senior breakfast. That was the hard work of a handful of seniors. What about the rest of us who have worked hard for four years? That is some BS! By the way, our school is 60% female, and the honorees are 1/7 female. There is a numbers gap here. Are these the people who represent our potential for future accomplishment??? Dean Elmore is the best thing going for BU. He and bridget moony were the only parts of senior breakfast that were NOT LET DOWNS.

  • Anonymous on 05.02.2009 at 9:45 am

    As a parent, I am embarassed too

    I was scrolling down on the BU News and was very excited to learn of the Commencement Speaker, and then……………….Michael Capuano. Who??? At least the article explained who he was. I am sure this Congressman is a great guy, but what are his credentials to be the speaker? And he went to BC! BU seems to stress its International connections, superior education — and that is why we pay top dollar to send our son to BU. The fact that Mr. Capuano is a supporter of the BioLab seems a little suspicious, and even insulting.

  • Anonymous on 05.02.2009 at 10:17 am

    Capuano

    Pathetic choice!

  • Anonymous on 05.02.2009 at 11:23 am

    something worth fighting against

    I am personally insulted. It is inappropriate for a regional congressman to address a student population hailing from across the country and from around the world. Furthermore it is an insult to the families of these students who have already invested so much money in this university.
    Capuano has been reelected five times, all unopposed in what has long been considered one of the safest Democratic districts in the nation, as well as the most Democratic district in New England….now that must be a challenge. He is also an avid supporter of the very controversial BU BioLab (surprise surprise). If a google search isn’t enough of an investigation check out citizensforethics.org Boston Globe reporter Michael Kranish’s article, “Capuano, wife given a $19,000 trip to Brazil” gives an elightening view of Capuano’s relationship with lobbyist groups. Could it be that support of the BioLab came in exchange for other political favors on BU’s part?
    Quite frankly we have faculty members, including noble prize winners, that are more qualified to speak to the class of 2009. In fact our most revered professor, Elie Wiesel is set to speak at Bucknell May 17th. It’s sickening that BU couldn’t even get one of their own.
    I understand that other speakers may have fallen through at the last minute (this is the popular rumor). However, Capuano should not have even been on the long list of possible candidates. Their are so many students here that know influential people. If the University was having difficulties they should have reached out to the student population.
    To sum it up a BC graduate turned mayor of Somerville, turned local congressman with questionable ties to BU is the speaker at the largest commencement ceremony in New England (25,000 people are expected to attend). This is a slap in the face to the students and their families, the alumni and professors at this school. Check out other 2009 commencement speakers. It will make your blood boil http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parent-cafe/690963-2009-commencement-speakers-4.html
    I plan on writing to local media outlets. I encourage you to do the same. For once in my four years I refuse to sit back and take it.

  • Anonymous on 05.02.2009 at 11:32 am

    I am personally insulted.

    I am personally insulted. It is inappropriate for a regional congressman to address a student population hailing from across the country and from around the world. Furthermore it is an insult to the families of these students who have already invested so much money in this university.
    Capuano has been reelected five times, all unopposed in what has long been considered one of the safest Democratic districts in the nation, as well as the most Democratic district in New England….now that must be a challenge. He is also an avid supporter of the very controversial BU BioLab (surprise surprise). If a google search isn’t enough of an investigation check out citizensforethics.org Boston Globe reporter Michael Kranish’s article, “Capuano, wife given a $19,000 trip to Brazil” gives an elightening view of Capuano’s relationship with lobbyist groups. Could it be that support of the BioLab came in exchange for other political favors on BU’s part?
    Quite frankly we have faculty members, including noble prize winners, that are more qualified to speak to the class of 2009. In fact our most revered professor, Elie Wiesel is set to speak at Bucknell May 17th. It’s sickening that BU couldn’t even get one of their own.
    I understand that other speakers may have fallen through at the last minute (this is the popular rumor). However, Capuano should not have even been on the long list of possible candidates. Their are so many students here that know influential people. If the University was having difficulties they should have reached out to the student population.
    To sum it up a BC graduate turned mayor of Somerville, turned local congressman with questionable ties to BU is the speaker at the largest commencement ceremony in New England (25,000 people are expected to attend). This is a slap in the face to the students and their families, the alumni and professors at this school. Check out other 2009 commencement speakers. It will make your blood boil http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parent-cafe/690963-2009-commencement-speakers-4.html
    I plan on writing to local media outlets. I encourage you to do the same. For once in my four years I refuse to sit back and take it.

  • Anonymous on 05.02.2009 at 5:15 pm

    Except for Bird and Spielberg, this is a HUGE letdown. Nice job dummies.

  • Anonymous on 05.02.2009 at 5:32 pm

    Top 30

    Don’t worry. I don’t think BU will be in the top 30 anytime soon–no school with a library like Mugar could come even close to such a ranking. The priorities of the administration are clearly not academic.

  • Anonymous on 05.02.2009 at 6:12 pm

    It would have been nice if you asked a graduating senior to speak.

  • Anonymous on 05.03.2009 at 12:09 pm

    BU, Inc.

    Boston University is no different than any other business entity in existence today: tomorrow depends on its ability to collect revenue today. In the case of Boston University, its largest source of funding comes from alumni who donate millions of dollars annually.

    The real reason BU is hosting a series of events for the Class of 2009 over the next two weeks is not, as it claims, to reward the graduating students for their hard work, but instead to promote feelings of belonging and nostalgia to make students feel more inclined to donate.

    Money speaks louder than words and actions.

    Money is why buildings have names and faculty have salaries. Money is why a representative to the United States Congress who works to secure federal funding for BU’s expansionary projects gets to reflect upon his days as an undergraduate (at Boston College, mind you) during our commencement. Academia is one thing, and one thing only: pay-to-play.

    So, you want a better commencement speaker? Then start playing the lottery and have a checkbook ready.

  • bu senior on 05.04.2009 at 2:56 pm

    honorees

    so are the honorees even going to be at the ceremony?

    or will they just have their names announced…..

    with BU’s speaker choice, im inclined to think the latter

  • Anonymous on 05.04.2009 at 8:48 pm

    Capuano? What a joke!

    I am a young alumnus, and I am very disheartened with the selection of Capuano as commencement speaker. BU also invited Steven Spielberg and Zhang Yimou–two of the world’s most successful filmmakers–and Larry Bird, but they are having a regional congressman speak? Really? How much federal money is he funneling to the university to get this nod (or who is he blackmailing)? This is such a shame–the university seemed to be doing well recently in getting world-class speakers, such as Hamid Karzai and Steven Chu, but now they are doing something completely illogical despite having world-renowned artists available. This is a complete insult to the graduating students, their parents, and the university’s alumni. I am considering not donating any money to BU now. But since the university’s rankings are already hurt considerably by low alumni giving, I don’t if this will have much of an effect in influencing its future policy.

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