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Univ. President to Give 2010 Commencement Address

March 5, 2010

University President Rev. David M. O’Connell announced in his From The President’s Desk letter in the March Issue of Inside CUA that he will give the 2010 commencement address at graduation.

“I will conclude my tenure at CUA with that great and humbling honor,” he said.

O’Connell cited that he decision came from a group on Facebook with 150 members supporting him as commencement speaker. There will be at least 700 or more students graduating in the Spring.

Since his decision was made public, a number of groups have been formed on Facebook that do not support O’Connell as speaker.

“As members of the graduating class of 2010, we deserve a unique commencement address, delivered by an individual who can offer exceptional words of wisdom, inspiration and advice,” one group says. “You would be able to make such remarks during a distinct speech as University President, both at the commencement exercises as well as at the baccalaureate Mass.”

The groups also claims that many members of the group in support of O’Connell are alumni and underclassmen, not seniors.

The group has created an online petition, which have more then 100 signatures, to have O’Connell removed from speaking as commencement speaker. The “CUA Students Seeking a Unique Commencement Speaker Petition” was created by senior Elizabeth Kuebler. Kuebler, as well as seniors Marian Williams and John Lynskey created the Facebook group. The group itself has over 200 members.

“We will welcome and appreciate your remarks as you conclude your twelve years at CUA, but we seek for you to introduce someone, other than yourself, as the 2010 commencement speaker,” they said.

The Washington Post’s education section, College Inc., also covered the frustration of students.

University spokesman Victor Nakas commented in the article that, “There will always be some dissatisfaction with the choice of a Commencement speaker, no matter who that person is. In the celebrity-obsessed age in which we live, many want a celebrity. Others want someone with gravitas, still others want someone who reflects their political or ideological view.”

He continued to mention that O’Connell would not have considered being the commencement speaker without the grassroots movement from students.

“He clearly does not want to create an unpleasant situation for the students on their graduation day,” said Nakas.

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