SOURCE: University of California, Irvine

University of California, Irvine

March 20, 2014 12:00 ET

President Obama to Speak at UC Irvine Commencement Celebration

Event Marks 50th Anniversary of President Johnson's Dedication of Campus Land

IRVINE, CA--(Marketwired - Mar 20, 2014) - President Barack Obama will address the University of California, Irvine's class of 2014 in a combined commencement ceremony Saturday, June 14, at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, the White House confirmed today.

The historic appearance honors the accomplishments of more than 8,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students and kicks off the campus's 50th anniversary celebration. In June 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson landed in a barren pasture to dedicate the land that would become UC Irvine. Johnson had only recently unveiled his Great Society agenda; groundbreaking civil rights legislation was passed by the Senate just a day earlier.

"I have come to California to ask you to throw off your doubts about America," Johnson said from the podium that day. "Help us demonstrate to the world that people of compassion and commitment can free their fellow citizens from the bonds of injustice, the prisons of poverty and the chains of ignorance."

Completing a historical circle, Obama will speak to a diverse class in which nearly 50 percent are first-generation university graduates.

"We are thrilled that the president has accepted our invitation to deliver the keynote address at our commencement exercises this June," said Chancellor Michael V. Drake. "We will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking and dedication ceremonies for our campus in 1964. We are proud of the progress we have made during our first half-century and are looking forward to even greater achievements in the years to come."

UC Irvine extended an initial invitation to the President in an April 2013 letter from Drake that outlined the accomplishments of the relatively young campus. This year, about 10,000 Anteaters of all stripes -- students, faculty, staff and alumni -- signed postcards encouraging Obama to attend the commencement. In March, a delegation headed by Thomas Parham, vice chancellor for student affairs, delivered the postcards and a student-produced video invitation to the White House Office of Public Engagement.

The June 14 ceremony will comprise undergraduate, graduate and professional schools in a unified celebration. School-based ceremonies, in which graduates are individually recognized, will follow on Sunday and Monday, June 15 and 16, on the UC Irvine campus.

About the University of California, Irvine: Located in coastal Orange County, near a thriving employment hub in one of the nation's safest cities, UC Irvine was founded in 1965. One of only 62 members of the Association of American Universities, it's ranked first among U.S. universities under 50 years old by the London-based Times Higher Education. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UC Irvine has more than 28,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It's Orange County's second-largest employer, contributing $4.3 billion annually to the local economy.

Media access: UC Irvine maintains an online directory of faculty available as experts to the media at today.uci.edu/resources/experts.php. Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UC Irvine faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UC Irvine news, visit news.uci.edu. Additional resources for journalists may be found at communications.uci.edu/for-journalists.

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