Bush is fifth
By SAM DERHEIMER
President George W. Bush will join the ranks of Dwight Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and his father, George Bush Sr., as he becomes the fifth American president to speak at a Notre Dame Commencement ceremony.
Several Notre Dame alumni in Congress, including Tim Roemer who district includes Notre Dame, and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, a former member of the Board of Trustees, recruited Bush as this year's primary Commencement speaker.
The topics Bush will discuss in his speech have not yet been released, but Dennis Brown, associate director of Notre Dame Public Relations, said he is sure the speech will focus on the seniors.
"For most seniors, this is the high point in their lives," Brown said. "We are extremely proud of them and their achievements, and the University does its best to keep them at the forefront."
Though he does not know the specifics of Bush's speech, Brown said he is confident the president will recognize that Commencement is an event to honor the seniors, not an opportunity for political propaganda.
Regardless of speech topics, Bush's planned arrival has sparked some controversy across the Notre Dame campus, but Brown said this is not at all surprising.
"There are controversies with every political figure, that's the nature of the political process in America," Brown said. "This is not a reflection of President Bush or Notre Dame."
Despite such controversy, the majority of the Notre Dame community seems to be responding favorably to the announcement of Bush's planned arrival.
"We are very pleased that he's chosen to make one of his very early commencement speeches at Notre Dame," Brown said.
Many seniors agree, "I think it's great that the president is coming to Notre Dame," T.J. Vanderbeek said. "The leader of the free world is coming to our school, to talk to us."
"I definitely think it's great that the President of the United States is speaking at our Commencement," Thomas Szarez said, "but I'm getting tired of hearing about how this proves we're a big school. We were a prominent school before Bush agreed to come, and we still would be whether he came or not."
The speech marks the fourth time Bush will have visited campus. The most notable visit was on March 7, 1980, when Bush participated in the University's Mock Republican Convention to help rally support for his father's presidential candidacy.
Along with his speech, Bush will also be the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws. Joining the president receiving honorary degrees will be: Father Cyprlan Davis, Marilou Eldred, William Kennedy, Archbishop Giuseppe Pittau, John Jordan, John Bahcall, Sara Martinex Tucker and Louis Gerstner.
The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. on May 20 in the Joyce Center.
All News Stories for Friday, May 18, 2001