The Collegian
Saturday, February 24, 2024

Both alumni and students to speak at commencements

University of Richmond alumni will speak to graduating students at this year's commencement ceremonies.

Gayle Goodson Butler, Westhampton College '73, the editor-in-chief of Better Homes and Gardens, will speak at the undergraduate commencement ceremony May 11.

Attorney General of Virginia Mark Herring will speak at the commencement ceremony for the T.C. Williams School of Law May 10.

Mark Hourigan, president of Hourigan Construction, will speak at the MBA commencement ceremony May 10.

A graduating student, a faculty member and an alumnus will speak at the graduation ceremony for the School of Professional and Continuing Studies.

Kelly Kurz, Richmond College '14, will speak at the undergraduate commencement ceremony.

Student speakers must go through an application process to speak. Kurz submitted a speech, performed it for 13 faculty and staff members and was notified the next day that he was chosen as this year's student commencement speaker.

Having alumni speak at commencement ceremonies is not out of the ordinary at the university, but is not the norm.

"They were chosen in recognition of their accomplishments and their ability to provide a message of inspiration and encouragement to our graduates," said Linda Evans, interim director of media and public relations.

Past commencement speakers include former Gov. Bob McDonnell, Sen. Tim Kaine and Curtis R. Carlson, president and CEO of SRI International.

The Honorary Degree Committee, composed of seven faculty members and chaired by the Provost, recommends its choice of commencement speakers to President Ed Ayers, who then formally invites the speakers.

"Our commencement speakers are a fantastic representation of the endless possibilities students have upon graduation," Kurz said. "Each of them has chosen their own route but they all demonstrate core Richmond qualities installed through our education here.

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"I am so honored to be speaking on the same stage as each of them."

Butler received the Alumni Award for Distinguished Service in 2005, and has been president of University of Richmond Alumni Association since July 2013. She is also the executive vice president and group creative content leader of Corporation's National Media Group.

According to a press release, the University of Richmond is expected to award 792 bachelor's degrees, 45 master's degrees, 41 MBA degrees and 153 juris doctor degrees this year.

All commencement ceremonies will be held in the Robins Center, except the MBA commencement ceremony, which will be held in Queally Hall's Ukrop Auditorium.

Contact reporter Danielle Schweizer at

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