2019 Commencement: Alumni, faculty, friends to speak at college and departmental ceremonies
May 16, 2019
Commencement ceremonies begin Thursday in Blacksburg with the Graduate School Ceremony at 2:30 p.m. Melody Barnes, co-director of the Democracy Initiative at the University of Virginia, will speak at that ceremony.
For the University Commencement Ceremony on Friday, Frank Beamer, legendary retired Virginia Tech football coach, will deliver the keynote address to undergraduates. On Sunday, Joshua Johnson, host of “1A,” a radio program produced by WAMU in Washington, D.C., will give the keynote address during the National Capital Region Commencement Ceremony.
In addition to the speakers at these ceremonies, many college and departmental events will feature guest speakers. See a full listing of college and department ceremonies, which begin Thursday evening.
Pamplin College of Business, Friday, 3:30 p.m., Cassell Coliseum
Brad Casper, a 1982 magna cum laude graduate in finance from the Pamplin College of Business, will address graduating students, their families, and faculty and staff as the keynote speaker at the college’s commencement ceremony.
Casper is CEO of OH Partners, an advertising agency in Phoenix, Arizona, recognized by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest growing private companies in America for six consecutive years.
Virgnia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Friday, 6 p.m., Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, Moss Arts Center
D. Phillip Sponenberg, professor, biomedical sciences and pathobiology at the vet school, will deliver remarks. A faculty member since 1981, Sponenberg has crafted a long and distinguished career in research, teaching, and service.
Impacting hundreds of veterinary students, he has taught pathology, reproduction, necropsy, and veterinary genetics and has served in advisory roles for a range of student groups, as well as a host of university and association advisory and service committees.
Corps of Cadets and ROTC Joint Graduation and Commissioning Ceremony, Friday, 7 p.m., Burruss Auditorium
U.S. Air Force Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond, commander of Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, will deliver remarks.
College of Engineering, Saturday, 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., Cassell Coliseum
Kathy de Paolo, aerospace and ocean engineering alumna and vice president of technology for Disney parks, experiences, and products, will deliver the keynote address at the College of Engineering’s commencement ceremonies.
De Paolo is the recipient of the 2019 College of Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award. The prestigious honor is bestowed annually upon one graduate out of approximately 68,000 living College of Engineering alumni who has achieved success and exemplifies Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).
Since joining Disney in 2015, de Paolo has managed strategic initiatives, including wearables, sensing technology, augmented reality/virtual reality, computer vision, natural language processing, and machine learning.
She led the commercialization and successful launch of a line of connected toys and consulted on approaches and early prototypes for a custom, augmented reality headset.
College of Architecture and Urban Studies, Saturday, 8:30 a.m., Burruss Auditorium
Rob Markus will speak at the ceremony for the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. A 1990 architecture graduate from Virginia Tech, Markus is a senior partner at WME, the world’s premier talent agency.
After running major record labels and publishing companies internationally, Markus joined WME 15 years ago. His primary focus is their music division’s international operations. In addition, he plays a significant role in the global expansion of the world’s number one festival brand, Lollapalooza, and runs WME’s music agent trainee program. His clients include Depeche Mode, Aloe Blacc, deadmau5, Kygo, J Balvin, Incubus, Juanes, Seal, Toto, and Nine Inch Nails.
Department of Chemistry, Saturday, 9 a.m., The Lyric Theatre
Colleen Kraft, the immediate past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, will deliver remarks. Before earning her medical degree, Kraft graduated from the College of Science at Virginia Tech. In 2009, she became the founding pediatric program director at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Later, Kraft was the medical director of the Health Network by Cincinnati Children's, a pediatric population health initiative, until 2017.
Department of Geosciences, Saturday, 10 a.m., Hancock Hall, Room 100
Susan Hubbard, an associate lab director with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, will speak to graduates. Hubbard received her master's degree in geosciences from Virginia Tech.
Department of Economics, Saturday, 12 p.m. McBryde Hall, Room 100
Manisha Patel, an attorney in Greensboro, North Carolina, will speak. Patel graduated from Virginia Tech in 2008 with dual degrees in economics and history.