The Catholic University of America

April 8, 2013

Dana Gioia to Address 2013 Graduates at CUA’s Commencement


Dana Gioia

Dana Gioia, acclaimed poet and successful champion of public funding for the arts and arts education, will address the Class of 2013 at the 124th Annual Commencement Ceremony of The Catholic University of America at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 18.

Catholic University’s Commencement will be held outdoors on the east steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, located at 400 Michigan Ave., N.E.

CUA will award an honorary degree to Gioia at Commencement.

Two other individuals will also receive honorary degrees. They are Jean Bethke Elshtain, Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, and Rev. John P. Foley, S.J., chair emeritus and chief mission officer of the Cristo Rey Network.

In 2003, Gioia was unanimously elected by the U.S. Senate to chair the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). He attracted enthusiastic bipartisan support for the previously embattled agency, creating the largest public programs in NEA’s history, with an emphasis on reaching underserved communities. Through the Shakespeare in American Communities program, more than 75 professional theater companies staged performances in over 2,500 communities throughout the United States for almost two million students, exposing many of them for the first time to live, professional theater. So successful was Gioia with this and other programs that Business Week magazine dubbed him “The Man Who Saved the NEA” and the U.S. Senate unanimously elected him to a second term in 2006.

“I am delighted that Dana Gioia will be our Commencement speaker this year,” said University President John Garvey. “We welcomed him to our campus in 2011 to speak about the vocation of the Catholic writer and his remarks were unusually thoughtful. Dana Gioia is a champion of literate culture and a public intellectual of the first order,” said Garvey.

An influential poet and critic, and trained musician, Gioia is the author of four full-length collections of poetry. One of them, Interrogations at Noon, won the 2002 American Book Award. A critic who reviewed that volume called Gioia “probably the most exquisite poet writing today in English.” Gioia has collaborated with musicians who have set his poetry to music in a variety of styles – from classical and jazz to rock and country – and he has written two opera libretti.

Gioia currently is the Judge Widney Professor of Poetry and Public Culture at the University of Southern California.

Gioia received a B.A. and M.B.A. from Stanford University and an M.A. in comparative literature from Harvard University. After he earned his M.B.A., Gioia embarked on a career with General Foods, eventually becoming a vice president. In 1992, he left a 15-year business career to devote his attention to writing.

Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law will hold its commencement at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 24, in the Basilica. This year’s law school commencement speaker will be William T. Robinson III, a distinguished legal practitioner and national leader in the legal community.

For more information or to make arrangements to cover the University’s main commencement exercises, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy Hines in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600 or

To cover the law school’s ceremony, contact Tom Haederle at 202-319-5438 or


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