The Catholic University of America

May 5, 2008

Catholic University to Confer 1,100 Degrees at Commencement

Knights of Columbus Leader and Spouse to Deliver Joint Address
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito to Speak at Law School Ceremony

Carl and Dorian Anderson

WASHINGTON - The Catholic University of America will confer approximately 850 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees during its 119th Annual Commencement Ceremony to be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 17, on the east steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, located at 400 Michigan Ave., N.E.

In addition, approximately 250 degrees will be distributed at the commencement ceremony for CUA's Columbus School of Law at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 23.

For other commencement details, visit: A plan for inclement weather can be found here. Audio and video of the main ceremony will be streamed live over the Internet starting at 9:30 a.m. The live stream can be accessed here.

Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson and his wife, Dorian, will deliver the main commencement address on May 17. As supreme knight, Anderson is the chief executive officer and chairman of the board of the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization, which has more than 1.7 million members. He and Dorian have for decades served the Catholic Church and have made charitable work around the world the focus of their lives.

Since Anderson assumed the position of supreme knight in 2000, the organization has achieved new heights in charitable giving, last year providing more than $143 million to charity and 68 million hours in voluntary service.

"There is, in my mind, no more higher-profile Catholic couple and parents than Carl and Dorian Anderson to share with us an inspiring message of encouragement," says Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., university president. "The parents of five children, two of them CUA alumni, the Andersons have been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to the Pontifical Council for the Family. Both Carl and Dorian have been unwavering in their promotion of Catholic marriage and family life."

Carl and Dorian Anderson will each receive the Doctor of Theology degree, honoris causa.

Under Carl Anderson's administration the Knights established the $1 million Heroes Fund to provide immediate assistance to the families of rescue workers killed in the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, and the $2 million Pacem in Terris Fund to assist the Catholic Church's efforts for peace in the Middle East.

Anderson has had a distinguished career as a public servant and educator. From 1983 to 1987, he served in various positions of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, including special assistant to the president and acting director of the White House Office of Public Liaison. Following his service at the White House, he served for nearly a decade as a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

He has worked closely with popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, serving as a consultor on several Vatican councils concerned with family, pro-life issues and peace and justice issues.

He also has strong ties to CUA, currently serving as a trustee of the university. In 1988, he became the founding vice president and first dean of the Washington, D.C., branch of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, which since 2001 has been located on the campus of Catholic University.

Anderson has been one of the executive officers of the Knights of Columbus since 1987. He holds a law degree from the University of Denver and is the author of the current New York Times best-seller A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World, published by HarperOne.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito

Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito will address graduates at the Columbus School of Law commencement ceremony, which will be held Friday, May 23, in the Great Upper Church of the National Shrine.

The most recently appointed member of the U.S. Supreme Court, Alito fills the seat vacated by the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Alito was unanimously rated "well qualified" to fill the Supreme Court post by the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary. He was confirmed by the Senate and assumed office on Jan. 31, 2006. Justice Alito is the 110th justice and the fifth Catholic to serve on the Supreme Court.

"Justice Alito accepted my invitation with great enthusiasm," says Father O'Connell. "Anytime a Supreme Court Justice addresses a law school graduating class is a great honor for the class, the school and the university. We all look forward to an inspiring message."

During the commencement ceremonies, Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services, will receive the James Cardinal Gibbons Medal, the CUA Alumni Association's highest honor, bestowed annually on an individual who exhibits distinguished service to the nation, the Roman Catholic Church and/or The Catholic University of America. Catholic Relief Services operates as an arm of the U.S. Catholic Church to provide emergency relief, agricultural assistance, health care and education to needy people in the world's poorest countries.

Outstanding students will be lauded during the Honors Convocation on Friday, May 16, at the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center. Father O'Connell will be the official celebrant and homilist during the Baccalaureate Mass in the National Shrine, Great Upper Church, on May 16. In a separate ceremony 44 students will be inducted into the honor society Phi Beta Kappa that day. Ingrid Merkel, founding director of the University Honors Program and a retired associate professor of modern languages and literatures, will address the inductees.

* * *

MEDIA: For more information or to make arrangements to cover the university's main commencement exercises, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600. To cover the law school commencement, contact Tom Haederle in the law school's Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5438.