Campus & Community

Speakers selected for spring Commencement ceremonies

Three distinguished Colorado citizens with strong connections to the University of Denver will provide the words of inspiration that usher 2008 graduates into the next stages of their lives.

“We are fortunate to have such prominent members of the DU community to turn to in choosing our Commencement speakers,” says Claire Brownell, assistant to the chancellor and Commencement committee chair. “I’m sure this day will be memorable for all our graduates.”

Karen Mathis (BA ’72), past president of the American Bar Association, will speak to law school graduates at 10 a.m. May 17. Peter Groff (JD ’92), president of the Colorado Senate, will speak at the graduate Commencement ceremony at 5 p.m. June 6. And Daniel Ritchie, DU chancellor emeritus, will address undergraduates at their Commencement June 7 at 10 a.m.

All three ceremonies will take place in Magness Arena, and the events will be video streamed live at

The number of graduates and guests wishing to participate in the undergraduate ceremony is expected to exceed the 7,500-seat capacity of Magness Arena. The number of students eligible for graduation this year increased 15 percent over last year to 1,217. To accommodate as many guests as possible, the University has implemented a ticketing system.

Graduates who requested tickets by the March 14 deadline are being issued as many as seven tickets. Those who missed the deadline will have four tickets held for them. Undergraduates planning to march in the June 7 ceremony must pick up their tickets during the cap and gown rental period in the Hamilton Gymnasium, from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. June 3 and from 10 a.m.–5: 30 p.m. June 4.

Tickets are not necessary for the law or graduate Commencement ceremonies.

Those attending this year’s Commencement ceremonies, says Brownell, will hear from Colorado leaders with a long history of positive contributions to DU and the state.

Speaking at the Sturm College of Law Commencement ceremony is Mathis, the third woman to serve as president of the American Bar Association and the first from Colorado. The National Law Journal named her one of the “50 Most Influential Women in America.” A lifelong advocate for children and youth, Mathis has been honored by law associations and schools from Colorado and across the country.

She is a partner in the Denver office of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter LLP.

Groff will speak at the graduate Commencement ceremony. He is the first African-American in Colorado to be elected president of the state Senate and only the third black state senate president in U.S. history.

During his legislative career, Groff has sponsored legislation prohibiting racial profiling, requiring booster seats for young children and securing millions to combat health care disparities. He is executive director of DU’s Center for African American Policy and publisher of

Ritchie returns to the University June 7 to speak to the last cohort of undergraduates he welcomed to DU as chancellor. Ritchie, former CEO of Westinghouse Broadcasting, served DU as chancellor from 1989–2005, forging a renaissance of quality in the University’s architecture and academics. Ritchie served on DU’s Board of Trustees from July 2005–January 2007.

While still maintaining ties to the University, Ritchie has moved on to chair the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He has been recognized for his civic and philanthropic efforts and serves on several boards aimed at improving the lives of Colorado citizens.

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