Speakers announced for May commencement ceremonies
March 29, 2019
Frank Beamer, legendary football coach for the Hokies, will return to Lane Stadium on Friday, May 17 as Virginia Tech’s commencement speaker.
Beamer will address the Class of 2019 during University Commencement exercises, which will begin at 8:30 a.m.
Speakers for other university commencement ceremonies will include Melody Barnes, co-director of the Democracy Initiative at the University of Virginia, and Joshua Johnson, WAMU radio program host in Washington, D.C.
Barnes will speak on Thursday, May 16, at Virginia Tech’s Graduate School Commencement Ceremony at 2:30 p.m. in Cassell Coliseum. Johnson will address graduates at the National Capital Region Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 19, at 1 p.m. at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts in Fairfax.
Beamer, a 1969 Virginia Tech graduate, celebrates his 50th reunion this year. He retired in 2015 as the winningest coach in Hokie football history, with a school-record 238 victories in 29 seasons. Under Beamer, the Hokies had five top 10 finishes and became one of only six programs in college football history to go to a bowl game for at least 20 consecutive seasons.
Of his many accolades, Beamer was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a first-ballot selection last year. In January, he received the Paul "Bear" Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award, and in June, he will receive the 23rd Dick Enberg Award.
Beamer now serves his alma mater as an ambassador for athletics. He is spokesperson for the Drive for 25 campaign that seeks to increase membership in the Virginia Tech Athletic Fund, known as the Hokie Club.
“Coach Frank Beamer has been and continues to be a model ambassador of the Hokie Nation,” said Matt Winston, senior associate vice president for Alumni Relations at Virginia Tech. “He has served Virginia Tech with class and distinction, both in his role as the leader of our great football program and as someone dedicated to the success and progress of our beloved alma mater. I have no doubt that students and fellow alumni alike will enjoy the words of wisdom and reflection that Frank will deliver.”
In addition to the Democracy Initiative, Barnes is a professor of practice at UVA’s Miller Center of Public Affairs and a distinguished fellow at the university’s School of Law. Previously, she was assistant to the president and director of the White House Domestic Policy Council for Barack Obama. Barnes provided strategic advice to the president and worked with members of the Cabinet coordinating the domestic policy agenda across the administration. Prior to that, she was senior domestic policy advisor to the Obama for America campaign and the Obama-Biden Transition Project.
Johnson hosts “1A,” a program produced by WAMU and distributed by National Public Radio. The program aims to bring new insight and inquiry to the most pressing issues of our time. Before WAMU, Johnson co-created and hosted the public radio series, "Truth Be Told," which explored race in America. He also taught podcasting at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and he is an active member of the National Association of Black Journalists.
A complete schedule of Virginia Tech commencement ceremonies and additional information can be found on the commencement website.