Commencement Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients

**Tickets will be required for entrance.**

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Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is a global media leader, philanthropist, producer and actress. She has created an unparalleled connection with people around the world, making her one of the most respected and admired people today. For 25 years, Winfrey was host of the award-winning talk show "The Oprah Winfrey Show." As Chairman and CEO, she's guiding her successful cable network, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, is the founder of O, The Oprah Magazine and oversees Harpo Films.

Winfrey is an Academy Award-nominated actress for her role in "The Color Purple," earned critical acclaim in "Lee Daniels' The Butler" and produced and acted in the Academy Award-winning film "Selma." Winfrey recently appeared in the HBO Films "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," and will portray "Mrs. Which" in Disney's "Wrinkle in Time" film adaptation releasing April 2018.

In 2015, Winfrey joined the Weight Watchers board of directors. On January 3, 2017, her first cookbook "Food, Health and Happiness: 115 On Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life" debuted as #1 on the New York Times Bestsellers List.
Winfrey is also one of the most active philanthropists in the world, donating over $20 million to the creation of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, of which she has contributed more than $100 million to provide education to academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds.

In 2013, Winfrey was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.


Beborah Bial

Deborah Bial

Deborah Bial is an expert in the field of higher education administration, college access and leadership development. Her extensive experience in facilitating dialogue related to issues of access, equity and diversity-and in guiding selective institutions of higher education towards improved admissions policy has gained her national recognition in the higher education community in the United States.

Bial is the president and founder of The Posse Foundation, a youth leadership development and college access organization that sends teams (Posses) of students from diverse backgrounds to selective colleges and universities. The Posse Foundation, a national 501(c)(3), is headquartered in New York City. In 2017, its annual budget of $23 million will support its operation in ten cities and leverage approximately $130 million in leadership scholarships from its 57 partner colleges and universities.

Since 1989, The Posse Foundation has identified close to 8,000 Posse Scholars. These young people have won more than $1 billion in leadership scholarships from Posse's partner colleges and universities, are persisting and graduating at a rate of 90 percent and are active leaders both on their campuses and now in the workforce.

Bial has grown The Posse Foundation from a concept into one of the most comprehensive college success and scholarship programs in the United States. Today it supports programs in Atlanta, the Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City and Washington D.C.

In 2010, President Obama named Posse as one of ten nonprofits with which he would share his Nobel Peace Prize money.

Bial earned her master's and doctoral degrees in education with a focus on higher education administration, planning and social policy from Harvard University. She completed her undergraduate degree at Brandeis University and has numerous honorary doctorates.

In October 2007, Bial received a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Baccalaureate Speaker

DriesellRev. Pam Driesell

The Rev. Pam Driesell became the fourth senior pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in October 2010. At Trinity, a large Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregation located in Atlanta, her areas of focus include visionary leadership, preaching & worship, pastoral care and empowering excellence in education and mission. Prior to accepting the call to Trinity Church, Driesell led the organization of a new church in Oconee County, Georgia, chartering the congregation with 115 members after two years in the field. Driesell has served on numerous councils and commissions including serving as an advisory council member of the Princeton Institute for Youth Ministry. She is currently the moderator of the Tri-Presbytery New Church Development Commission.

Driesell earned her Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, where she was awarded the James T. Galloway Prize in Expository Preaching. She holds a Master of Liberal Studies from Hollins University and a Bachelor of Science with academic honors from James Madison University.