USC announces speakers for commencement satellite ceremonies

May 8, 2017

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra; U.S. Senator Michael Bennet; Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix; former HUD Secretary Julián Castro; WellPoint founding chairman and CEO Leonard Schaeffer; Qualcomm president and co-founder Andrew Viterbi; social work pioneer Suzanne Dworak-Peck and actors Cheech Marin and Bradley Whitford are among the satellite commencement speakers.

Contact: Ian Chaffee at (213) 810-8554 or

More than 60,000 members of the Trojan Family will unite on the University Park Campus for USC’s 134th commencement ceremony on Friday, May 12.

Will Ferrell, a recipient of the Mark Twain Prize and a Tony- and Emmy-nominated actor, will deliver the commencement address.

Six honorary degree recipients will also be recognized for their contributions as civic, academic, scientific and arts leaders in the community. The honorary degree recipients are Ferrell; social work leader and USC Trustee Suzanne Dworak-Peck; David D. Ho, founding director and CEO of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center; biomedical pioneer Gary Michelson; Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren; and Mark Ridley-Thomas, chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

More than 15,000 degrees will be conferred during USC’s commencement this year, either at the main ceremony in Alumni Park or at one of the satellite ceremonies across campus.

Degree candidates, Half Century Trojans, faculty and distinguished guests will form a processional leaving Bovard Auditorium at 8:30 a.m. USC President C. L. Max Nikias will preside over the main ceremony at 9 a.m. in Alumni Park.

On Saturday, May 13, the Keck School of Medicine of USC will hold its satellite ceremony for M.S., Ph.D. and M.P.H. graduates. The speaker will be Anne Schuchat, acting director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, assistant surgeon general and rear admiral for the U.S. Public Health Service Commission Corps.

The speaker at the Keck School of Medicine’s satellite ceremony for M.D. graduates, also on May 13, will be USC Trustee Leonard Schaeffer, the founding chairman and CEO of WellPoint. Schaeffer is also a USC professor who holds the Judge Robert Maclay Widney Chair.

The baccalaureate ceremony for USC degree candidates and their families will be held at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 11, at Bovard Auditorium. Integrative medicine pioneer Deepak Chopra will deliver the keynote address at the nondenominational, interfaith celebration. The baccalaureate dinner will follow at 6:30 p.m. on Pardee Way.

On Friday, May 12, diplomas will be presented at satellite ceremonies for individual schools and will feature the following speakers:

USC School of Architecture
Thom Mayne, founder and principal, Morphosis

USC Roski School of Art and Design
Cheech Marin, actor, comedian, writer and art collector

USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy
Mike Nyeholt, founder and chairman of Swim With Mike

USC Marshall School of Business, Leventhal School of Accounting
Alan C. Fox, president and founder, ACF Property Management

USC Marshall School of Business (Graduate)
Sabrina Kay, founder and chancellor of Fremont College

USC Marshall (Undergraduate)
Julia A. Stewart, former chairman and CEO of DineEquity

USC School of Cinematic Arts
Ron Meyer, vice chairman, NBC Universal

USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, School of Communication
Maurício Mota, co-president and executive producer, Wise Entertainment

USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, School of Journalism
León Krauze, Wallis Annenberg Chair, USC Annenberg School

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC
Varun Soni, USC dean of religious life
David Agus, founding director of the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC, professor of medicine and engineering at USC Viterbi School and Keck School of Medicine

USC School of Dramatic Arts
Bradley Whitford, actor

USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology
Peter W. Mullin, founding chairman, Mullin Barens Sanford Financial

USC Rossier School of Education
Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator, Colorado
Allyson Felix, Olympic gold medalist

USC Viterbi School of Engineering (Graduate)
Vibhu Omprakash Mittal, CEO, Edmodo

USC Viterbi School of Engineering (Undergraduate)
USC Trustee Andrew Viterbi, president and co-founder of Qualcomm
Megan Smith, 3rd Chief Technology Officer of the United States

USC Gould School of Law
Xavier Becerra, attorney general of California

USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences (Group 1)
Peter Mancall, vice dean for the humanities

USC Dornsife (Group 2)
Amber D. Miller, dean

USC Dornsife (Group 3)
Steven Lamy, vice dean for academic programs

USC Dornsife (Group 4)
Sarah Pratt, vice provost for graduate programs

Keck School of Medicine of USC, Health Promotion and Global Health Programs
Peter Long, president and CEO, Blue Shield of California Foundation

Keck School of Medicine of USC, Physician Assistant Program
Ruth Ballweg, professor emeritus of family medicine, University of Washington
Sae Byul Ma, assistant professor of clinical family medicine, Keck School of Medicine

USC Thornton School of Music
Gail Samuel, acting president and CEO, Los Angeles Philharmonic Association

USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Amy J. Lamb, president, American Occupational Therapy Association

USC School of Pharmacy
Jessica M. Núñez de Ybarra, public health medical officer, California Department of Public Health

USC Price School of Public Policy
Julián Castro, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (2014-17)

USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work
USC Trustee Suzanne Dworak-Peck, International Federation of Social Workers ambassador

ROTC Commissioning Ceremony: Air Force, Army, Naval
U.S. Army Brigadier General Bertram Providence

Other satellite ceremony speakers will be posted on individual schools’ websites.

For more information about USC commencement, visit


Image courtesy of Will Ferrell