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Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to speak at W&M Commencement

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will speak at William & Mary’s 2015 Commencement ceremony, scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, May 16 in William & Mary Hall.

Condoleezza RiceRice will receive an honorary doctor of public service degree at the event. Current William & Mary Chancellor and former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates ’65, who served on the Cabinet of the United States alongside Rice for several years, will also speak at the event.

“It will be grand to have Secretary Rice speak to the Class of 2015 at Commencement,” said President Taylor Reveley. “Condoleezza Rice broke barriers of gender and race while serving at the most senior levels of our national government. She has also had a very distinguished career in the academy as a teacher, scholar and administrator. Few equal her experience in both public affairs and higher education.”

The main ceremony’s Saturday scheduling is a change from previous years when Commencement occurred on Sunday. Departmental ceremonies will continue to take place on Sunday, May 17.

Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice is currently the Denning Professor in Global Business and the Economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business; the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution; and a professor of Political Science at Stanford University.  She is also a founding partner of RiceHadleyGates, LLC.

From January 2005-2009, Rice served as the 66th Secretary of State of the United States, the second woman and first African American woman to hold the post. Rice also served as President George W. Bush’s Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (National Security Advisor) from January 2001-2005, the first woman to hold the position.

Rice served as Stanford University’s provost from 1993-1999, during which she was the institution's chief budget and academic officer. As provost, she was responsible for a $1.5 billion annual budget and the academic program involving 1,400 faculty members and 14,000 students. In 1997, she also served on the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender -- Integrated Training in the Military.

From 1989 through March 1991, Rice served on President George H.W. Bush’s National Security Council staff.  She served as Director; Senior Director of Soviet and East European Affairs; and, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. In 1986, while an international affairs fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, Rice also served as Special Assistant to the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

As professor of political science, Rice has been on the Stanford faculty since 1981 and has won two of the highest teaching honors – the 1984 Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching and the 1993 School of Humanities and Sciences Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching.

She has authored and co-authored numerous books, including two bestsellers, No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington (2011) and Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family (2010); Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft (1995) with Philip Zelikow; The Gorbachev Era (1986) with Alexander Dallin; and Uncertain Allegiance: The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army (1984).

Watch Commencement live online. Click for details.In 1991, Rice cofounded the Center for a New Generation (CNG), an innovative, after-school academic enrichment program for students in East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park, California. In 1996, CNG merged with the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula (an affiliate club of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America). CNG has since expanded to local BGCA chapters in Birmingham, Atlanta, and Dallas. She remains an active proponent of an extended learning day through after school programs. 

Since 2009, Rice has served as a founding partner at RiceHadleyGates, LLC, an international strategic consulting firm based in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. The firm works with senior executives of major companies to implement strategic plans and expand in emerging markets. Other partners include former National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley and former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates.

"Secretary Rice has been my friend and colleague, in and out of government, for more than 25 years. Her career as an educator at Stanford and in public service is inspiring, said Gates, who became W&M’s 24th chancellor, an honorary position, in 2012. “We worked closely together in the Cabinet and I know she cares deeply about the future of our country. That future begins with the next generation of leaders from William & Mary. I look forward to her message to the graduates.”

Rice currently serves on the board of Dropbox, an online-storage technology company, C3, an energy software company, and Makena Capital, a private endowment firm. In addition, she is a member of the boards of the George W. Bush Institute, the Aspen Institute, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Previously, Rice served on various additional boards, including: the Commonwealth Club; the Chevron Corporation; the Charles Schwab Corporation; the Transamerica Corporation; the Hewlett-Packard Company; the University of Notre Dame; the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; and, the San Francisco Symphony Board of Governors.

In 2013, Rice was appointed to the College Football Playoff Committee (CPFC), formerly the Bowl Championship Series (BCS).

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Rice earned her bachelor's degree in political science, cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Denver; her master's from the University of Notre Dame; and her Ph.D. from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver.

Rice is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been awarded ten honorary doctorates. She currently resides in Stanford, California.

Schedule change

In previous years, the Commencement ceremony was held on Sunday. However, this year, the event was moved to Saturday in order to accommodate departmental ceremonies, which used to take place the same day in locations across campus, said Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler. The decision to move the main ceremony to Saturday and keep departmental ceremonies on Sunday was made by the Commencement Policy Committee, chaired by Ambler, and approved by President Reveley.

“Several departments had outgrown their regularly scheduled spaces or rain locations, making scheduling difficult,” Ambler said. “The new schedule not only helps solve our space issue, but also provides an opportunity to enhance some signature weekend events. For example, the Alumni Induction Ceremony will now take place after the graduation ceremony which allows us to form a new tradition around that event.  Graduation is a significant accomplishment, and we look forward to celebrating with our students, their families, and the William & Mary community.”

Due to the schedule change, the traditional Candlelight Ceremony will now be held Friday night – at 9:30 p.m. – in the Wren Yard. For information on departmental ceremonies as well as other Commencement weekend activities, view the weekend guide online.