Illustrious Commencement Speakers Bring Global Views

By Maya Bell

Illustrious Commencement Speakers Bring Global Views

By Maya Bell
Speakers to address the University of Miami’s commencement exercises May 5-7, when more than 3,500 graduates walk the stage at the BankUnited Center.

Four international luminaries—the former foreign minister of Mexico who challenged his nation’s one-party rule, the former president of Costa Rica who won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Canadian co-founder of AIDS-Free World who served the UN for two decades, and the British U.S. managing editor of the Financial Times who foresaw the looming mortgage crisis—will be among the distinguished speakers at the University of Miami’s commencement exercises May 5-7, when more than 3,500 graduates walk the stage at the BankUnited Center.

All four speakers—political scientist Jorge G. Castañeda, Nobel laureate Oscar Arias, AIDS advocate and former diplomat Stephen Lewis, and anthropologist-turn-financial-journalist Gillian Tett—will receive honorary degrees, Doctors of Humane Letters, for their notable contributions during one of four ceremonies that occur over two days, Thursday May 5 and Friday, May 6.

Rounding out the 2016 commencement speakers during the final two ceremonies on Saturday, May 7 will be documentary filmmaker, art collector, and philanthropist Dennis Scholl, a 1981 alumnus of the School of Law, who will deliver the address to 365 graduating law students at his alma mater’s commencement ceremony at 10 a.m., and UM President Julio Frenk, who will give his first commencement address as UM’s sixth president. A physician and public health expert who headed Mexico’s Ministry of Health, Frenk will share his advice with the nearly 200 new doctors who are graduating in the Miller School of Medicine’s Class of 2016 at 5 p.m.

Castañeda, the Global Distinguished Professor of Politics and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University, will address more than 970 students who are expected to walk the stage for their master’s and doctorate degrees at the 4 p.m. ceremony on Thursday, May 5. A prolific writer and renowned public intellectual, Castañeda was one of the architects of former Mexican President Vicente Fox’s 2000 National Action Party candidacy, which ended the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s seven decades of one-party rule. He served as Fox’s foreign minister from 2000 to 2003, refocusing Mexico’s foreign policy on human rights and democracy.

Arias, Costa Rica’s two-time president who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to stabilize Central America during one of its most turbulent periods, will share his advice at the 8:30 a.m. ceremony on Friday, May 6, when about 770 students from the College of Arts and Sciences will celebrate their graduation. Internationally renowned as a spokesperson for the developing world, Arias continues to promote human development, peace and democracy, and demilitarization in the developing world through the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress, which he established with the monetary award from his Nobel prize.

Since leaving office for the second time in 2010, he has concentrated on developing controls on the international arms trade, culminating in the approval of the International Arms Trade Treaty by the United Nations in 2013.

Lewis, who served as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa from 2001 to 2006, will address about 700 graduates from the School of Architecture, the School of Communication, the School of Education and Human Development, the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music, and the School of Nursing and Health Studies, at the 1 p.m. undergraduate ceremony on Friday, May 6.

Through AIDS-Free World, the international advocacy organization Lewis co-directs, he continues to expose the social ills—injustice, abuse, and inequality—that underpin and sustain HIV. Prior to serving as special envoy, he was deputy executive director of UNICEF at the organization’s global headquarters in New York, and Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations. In that capacity, he chaired the first International Conference on Climate Change.

Tett, an award-winning journalist who is widely credited with being the first mainstream journalist to issue public warnings about the bubbling financial crisis that exploded into the headlines in 2008, will address more than 600 graduates of the School of Business Administration and the College of Engineering at the 5 p.m. ceremony on Friday, May 6.

A graduate of Cambridge University, where she earned her Ph.D. in social anthropology, Tett has reported on an eclectic range of financial topics from around the world. She speaks multiple languages and is the author of several books, including The New York Times best seller, Fool’s Gold: The Inside Story of J.P. Morgan and How Wall St. Greed Corrupted Its Bold Dream and Created a Financial Catastrophe.