Campus & Community

DU names speakers — including Madeleine Albright — for Commencement ceremonies

The University of Denver has announced speakers for the spring 2016 Commencement ceremonies in May and June.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will deliver the spring undergraduate Commencement address on Saturday, June 4.

Albright is the daughter of Josef Korbel, the former DU international studies professor for whom the international studies school was renamed in 2008. She was nominated as the first female secretary of state by President Bill Clinton on Dec. 5, 1996, confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Jan. 22, 1997, and sworn in the next day. She served in the position for four years and ended her service on Jan. 20, 2001.

As secretary of state, Albright promoted the expansion of NATO eastward into the former Soviet bloc nations; successfully pressed for military intervention under NATO auspices during the 1999 humanitarian crisis in Kosovo; favored the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on Global Climate Change; and furthered the normalization of relations with Vietnam.

Albright earned a BA in political science from Wellesley College and a PhD in public law and government from Columbia University.


DU alumna Susana Cordova (BA ’88), acting superintendent of Denver Public Schools, will deliver the 2016 spring graduate Commencement address on Friday, June 3.

Cordova is a lifelong Denver resident who has worked in DPS schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels. She has held several positions in central administration and was most recently executive director of teaching and learning before moving into the role of chief academic officer.

Cordova began her teaching career as a bilingual teacher at Horace Mann Middle School, teaching English and Spanish in a dual-language program. From there, she moved to West High School, where she was an ESL and English teacher and department chair. She became a student advisor supervising discipline when she was recruited for the DPS Leadership Academy. She served as assistant principal at Bryant Webster Elementary School for one year before becoming principal of Remington Elementary School, a school with a 95 percent free- and reduced-price-lunch population.

In 2002, Cordova was recruited to the central office as director of literacy. Under her supervision, DPS implemented a districtwide literacy program at all grades.

Cordova received her undergraduate degree in English from the University of Denver and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction/education administration from the University of Colorado.


Rebecca Love Kourlis, former Colorado Supreme Court Justice and executive director of DU’s Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, will deliver the keynote speech at the Sturm College of Law Commencement Ceremony on May 21.

Kourlis began her law career with the law firm of Davis Graham & Stubbs, then started a small practice in rural northwest Colorado working in natural resources, water, public lands, oil and gas and mineral law. In 1987, she was appointed as a trial court judge with a general jurisdiction docket. She served as water judge and later as chief judge of the district. She returned to Denver in 1994 and worked as an arbitrator and mediator for the Judicial Arbiter Group. She was appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court in 1995.

Kourlis has received numerous individual honors, including the American Bar Association Justice Center’s 2012 John Marshall Award, the ABA Judicial Division’s 2009 Robert B. Yegge Award for Outstanding Contribution in the Field of Judicial Administration and the 2008 Regis College Civis Princeps citizenship award. She was honored by the Girl Scouts of Colorado as a 2006 Woman of Distinction and was chosen by the League of Women Voters of Colorado to receive its 2015 Leader of Democracy award. Kourlis and her husband, Tom, were named the 2010 Citizens of the West by the National Western Stock Show.

Kourlis earned a BA in English from Stanford University and a JD from Stanford University Law School.


The graduate and undergraduate Commencement ceremonies will stream live on the Commencement website.




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