Desmond Tutu to Speak at Penn Commencement

Jacquie Posey | | 215-898-6460
Saturday, March 22, 2003

PHILADELPHIA -- Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel laureate and one of the
world's foremost Christian leaders to oppose apartheid in South Africa, will
deliver the address at the 247th Commencement ceremony of the University of
Pennsylvania May 19.

Commencement will begin with the procession of degree candidates at 9:30
a.m. at Franklin Field, 33rd and South streets. Approximately 6,000 degrees
will be conferred.

Tutu graduated from college with a teaching diploma and taught high school
before entering the Anglican ministry. He later earned bachelor of divinity
and master of theology degrees in England before returning to South Africa.

Tutu was named secretary general of the South African Council of Churches
after the historic 1976 uprising against apartheid in Soweto. His leadership
at the SACC created a public stage for his active resistance to racial
injustice in South Africa, earning him the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize.

Tutu devoted the following years to bridging the chasm between the people of
South Africa. In 1986, he became the first black Anglican archbishop of Cape
Town. More recently, he headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, an
attempt to heal the wounds of the former system of government-enforced
racial segregation. He retired as archbishop of Cape Town and was named
archbishop emeritus in 1996.

At Penn’s Commencement, Tutu will receive an honorary doctor of humane
letters degree.

Other honorary-degree recipients are:

  • Stephen Breyer, an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court admired for
    his distinguished dedication to constitutional law, brilliance about
    governmental regulation in a free-market society and passion for teaching.
  • Herbert J. Gans, a professor of sociology at Columbia University and the
    first graduate of Penn's Graduate School of Fine Arts doctoral program in
    city planning whose research and commentary on urban sociology and
    planning have served as a national standard for more than 50 years.
  • Sadako Ogata, a former United Nations high commissioner for refugees, a
    scholar-in-residence with The Ford Foundation and the Japanese prime
    minister’s special representative for Afghanistan assistance.
  • Mamphela Ramphele, the first African woman to serve as a World Bank
    managing director and an anthropologist, physician and university
    administrator who played a key role in South Africa’s anti-apartheid
  • Philip Roth, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of such works as "Portnoy’s
    Complaint," "Operation Shylock," "Sabbath’s Theater," "American Pastoral,"
    "I Married a Communist," "The Human Stain" and "The Dying Animal."

Additional Penn Commencement information is available by calling
215-573-4723 or by visiting

High resolution images of the honorary degree recipients are available at: