The Catholic University of America

April 27, 2010

CUA to Confer 1,700 Diplomas at Commencement Ceremonies

Departing CUA President to Deliver Commencement Address
Chief Judge Paul R. Michel to Speak at Law School Ceremony

  Father O'Connell

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Catholic University of America will confer approximately 1,400 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees during its 121st Annual Commencement Ceremony to be held outdoors at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 15, 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 300 degrees will be distributed at the commencement ceremony for CUA’s Columbus School of Law at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 28.

Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., university president, will address graduates at the main commencement ceremony. Named the 14th president of CUA in 1998, Father O’Connell will be stepping down this summer. Since his inauguration as president 12 years ago, he has strengthened the university’s Catholic identity, hosted Pope Benedict XVI’s visit in 2008, overseen record-breaking undergraduate student enrollment, acquired nearly 50 acres of land for the university’s future use and revitalized the campus’ appearance with the construction of new buildings, renovation of old ones and beautification of the grounds.

He has a doctorate in canon law from CUA with a specialization in Catholic higher education. Prior to his presidency at CUA, he was associate vice president and academic dean at St. John's University in New York and interim academic vice president at Niagara University in New York State. He has also served as an ecclesiastical judge and canonical adviser in numerous dioceses and as a seminary professor.

Father O'Connell possesses degrees in moral theology and philosophy as well. He has been a nationally recognized spokesperson for and supporter of Ex Corde Ecclesiae and its full implementation within the Catholic academy. In addition, Father O'Connell is a consultor on the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education.

Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law will hold its commencement on Friday, May 28, in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica. This year’s law school commencement speaker will be Chief Judge Paul R. Michel.

Chief Judge Paul R. Michel

Michel was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 1988. In 2004, he assumed the duties of chief judge.

Chief Judge Michel has judged several thousand appeals and written more than 800 opinions in the diverse legal areas covered by his circuit. He has also regularly sat with the Second, Third, Ninth and District of Columbia circuits, where he has decided and written opinions in constitutional, criminal, administrative, securities, immigration and state law cases.

Prior to his appointment, Chief Judge Michel served in the executive and legislative branches of the government for 22 years. A graduate of Williams College in 1963 and the University of Virginia Law School in 1966, Michel served as an assistant district attorney and then deputy district attorney for investigations under then-District Attorney Arlen Specter in Philadelphia, where he was responsible for investigating police and public official corruption.

For more on Chief Judge Michel, visit

During the May 15 commencement ceremony, Ida Cammon Robinson will be presented with an honorary degree. Robinson is an alumna and nursing educator. Sister Alice Zachmann, S.S.N.D., founder and former director of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA, will be presented with the James Cardinal Gibbons Medal, the alumni association’s highest honor.

Outstanding students will be lauded during the Honors Convocation on Friday, May 14, in the Basilica, Great Upper Church.

Father O’Connell will be the official celebrant during the Baccalaureate Mass in the Basilica, Great Upper Church, on May 14. Rev. Robert Schlageter, O.F.M. Conv., university chaplain, will serve as homilist. Father Schlageter will also be stepping down this year after 12 years of service.

In a separate ceremony on Friday, about 50 students will be inducted into the honor society Phi Beta Kappa.

For other commencement details, visit: A plan for inclement weather can be found by clicking here. Audio and video of the main ceremony will be streamed live over the Internet starting at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 15, at Audio and video of the Honors Convocation and Baccalaureate Mass will be posted to approximately 30 minutes after each event concludes.

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 or To cover the law school commencement, contact Tom Haederle in the law school’s Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5438.