Commencement Speakers at G.U. and G.W.U.; HHS’s Sebelius Invite Protested


During Georgetown University’s May 17-20 commencement ceremonies, business leaders, scientists and human right activists will speak, including LivingSocial CEO and co-founder Tim O’Shaughnessy and creator of “The Wire” and “Treme,” David Simon.

Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, will take part at a Public Policy Institute awards ceremony, not a graduation event. Nevertheless, her presence has sparked protests from the Cardinal Newman Society and other conservative Catholics because of the Obama Administration’s stance on abortion and other healthcare issues concerning religious institutions. The Archdiocese of Washington also criticized the university’s decision to include Sebelius, “whose actions as a public official present the most direct challenge to religious liberty.”

Georgetown University President John DeGioia issued a statement, defending the university’s decision: “In different contexts over the past three months, including a March 14 ‘Statement on Religious Freedom and HHS Mandate,’ the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed strong opposition to the position put forward by the Obama Administration. Some have interpreted the invitation of Secretary Sebelius as a challenge to the USCCB. It was not. The invitation to Secretary Sebelius occurred prior to the Jan. 20 announcement by the Obama Administration of the modified healthcare regulations. The secretary’s presence on our campus should not be viewed as an endorsement of her views. As a Catholic and Jesuit university, Georgetown disassociates itself from any positions that are in conflict with traditional church teachings.”

Over at George Washington University, there are no such concerns. “NBC Nightly News” anchor, members of Congress and the District’s deputy mayor of education will be among the speakers addressing graduates at George Washington University Commencement ceremonies May 18-20.
Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News” and host of “Rock Center,” will deliver the keynote address to nearly 25,000 George Washington University graduates and guests and will receive an honorary doctorate degree, Sunday, May 20, on the National Mall. International businessman and philanthropic leader Carlos Slim and internationally renowned artist Clarice Smith also will receive honorary degrees from the university.

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