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Week of February 15, 2010

President Obama to deliver U-M spring 2010 commencement address

President Barack Obama will deliver the spring 2010 commencement address at U-M, President Mary Sue Coleman announced.

Obama will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

“President Obama has captured the imagination and enthusiasm of many students with his inspiring words of hope and change. We are honored to welcome a leader of his distinction and look forward to his message,” Coleman says. “We could not be happier for the graduates who will celebrate their academic achievements with the president of the United States.”

The ceremony will be at 10 a.m. May 1 in Michigan Stadium. The university awards degrees to about 3,500 undergraduate students at spring commencement, before an audience of more than 40,000. Ticket information will be released at a later date.

Obama delivered his first State of the Union speech in January after completing his first year as the 44th president of the United States. His speech focused on the economy, jobs and the importance of establishing small businesses. The state of Michigan, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, is trying to reinvent itself in the wake of the auto industry’s transformation.

Obama, who was the first African American to be elected president, was born in Hawaii on Aug. 4, 1961. His father was from Kenya and his mother from Kansas. His grandparents helped raise him in Hawaii. With the help of scholarships and student loans, he graduated from Columbia University in New York with a degree in political science.

At Harvard Law School, Obama was elected the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. In 2009 he won the Nobel Peace Prize for “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

Former President Bill Clinton delivered the U-M spring commencement speech in 2007. Obama will be the fourth sitting president to visit U-M in Ann Arbor. The most recent was George H.W. Bush in May 1991. U-M alumnus Gerald R. Ford launched his re-election campaign at the university in September 1976. Lyndon B. Johnson was the first sitting president to visit U-M when he addressed the graduating class of 1964.

For more information on presidential visits at U-M, go to



Jeanne Mackey, senior performance support analyst, Information and Technology Services, on environmental activism: “What I love about the Transition Towns approach to a low-energy future is that it draws on our hopes more than our fears.”


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