Duke University will award more than 5,100 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees during its annual commencement ceremony Sunday, May 11, in Wallace Wade Stadium.
Duke President Richard H. Brodhead will preside over the 10 a.m. ceremony and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will deliver the commencement address.
The event is open to the public.
The student speaker at commencement is Jennifer Sherman, a cultural anthropology major from Bay Village, Ohio. Sherman has worked with refugee families in Durham, Nepal and Jordan through a Bass Connections team and the Kenan Institute for Ethics, where she co-directed the Mastery Tutoring Program. She also has been a research assistant, an academic tutor for Duke Athletics and a community volunteer.
Dempsey graduated from West Point in 1974 and earned a master’s degree in English from Duke in 1984. While commencement speakers typically receive an honorary degree, Dempsey has declined, stating that he is not accepting any further honorary degrees while in his role with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Five people will receive honorary degrees during the ceremony. They are: Carolyn Bertozzi, a molecular biologist at the University of California at Berkeley; Erskine B. Bowles, businessman and former White House chief of staff and president of the University of North Carolina; Susan Hockfield, a neuroscientist and former president at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Walter Isaacson, a writer, biographer and president and CEO of the Aspen Institute; and Dr. W. Delano Meriwether, a physician, philanthropist and former track and field champion.
About 14,500 people are expected to attend the main commencement exercise and other ceremonies, according to Duke’s Office of Special Events and University Ceremonies, which oversees graduation weekend planning.
Visitor spending in Durham during graduation weekend – through sales of food, hotel rooms, retail items, gasoline, car rentals and entertainment – is expected to total about $6.9 million, said Shelly Green, CEO of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau. Estimated tax revenue is expected to be $277,000, slightly lower than last year due to some changes in how tax revenue is calculated, she said.
“Duke’s graduation weekend has always been an important event for Durham,” Green said. “We are delighted to host the thousands of parents, friends and family members who are here to celebrate such a meaningful occasion. We are also very grateful that the attendees contribute a substantial impact on the community.”
On Duke’s campus, additional police officers and event staff will assist with traffic and parking. Free parking will be provided throughout campus on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Nearly all campus lots, including gated facilities, will be open, but some of the lots on the east side of Wallace Wade Stadium will be restricted. Parking is recommended in the lot on Frank Bassett Drive off Science Drive; the Science Drive visitors lot between Highway 751 and Towerview Drive; the lot at the corner of 751 and Science Drive; the Blue Zone lots on the east side of the stadium off Duke University Road; the parking garage on Science Drive near the Bryan Center; the Edens B and Edens C lots off Towerview Drive; the Grounds lot off Cameron Boulevard; and the Chemistry lot accessible from Circuit Drive.