Civil Rights Icon John Lewis First of Commencement Speakers at UC Davis

John Lewis with historic march in background
Civil rights icon John Lewis will be the guest speaker at the first of 13 commencements at UC Davis this spring.

Civil rights icon John Lewis, who has served as U.S. representative for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District since 1986, will launch graduation season at the University of California, Davis, with an address to the School of Law commencement on Saturday, May 14.

head shots of seven speakers
Left to right, Dr. John Stuelpnagel, Dr. Bennet Omalu, Ted Mitchell, Henry "Hoby" Wedler, Lynda Resnick and Diane Bryant.

Other guest speakers at 13 ceremonies through June 12 include, listed in chronological order:

  • Dr. John R. Stuelpnagel ’79, ’83, a genomics entrepreneur and chair of 10X Genomics and Omicia, both in the San Francisco Bay Area (School of Veterinary Medicine, May 21)
  • Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist, neuropathologist and epidemiologist whose battle to warn pro football about degenerative brain disease sparked the major Hollywood film Concussion and heightened the national dialogue about traumatic brain injuries in collision sports (School of Medicine, May 28)
  • Ted Mitchell, the U.S. undersecretary of education, who has overseen policies, programs and activities related to postsecondary education since his confirmation by the U.S. Senate in 2014 (School of Education, June 8)
  • Henry “Hoby” Wedler, a doctoral student in organic chemistry at UC Davis who was honored by the White House as one of 14 “Champions for Change” pointing the way for people with disabilities in the sciences (Graduate Studies, June 9)
  • Lynda Resnick, co-owner of The Wonderful Company, a $4.8 billion global company that grows and sells iconic brands including Pom Wonderful, Fiji Water, Wonderful Pistachios and Halos (Graduate School of Management, June 11)
  • Diane Bryant ‘85, who, through the transformative power of education, went from being homeless to serving as executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group for Intel Corp. (College of Engineering, June 12)

The university will recognize some 9,000 graduates with undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in fields ranging from management and veterinary medicine to the humanities and agricultural sciences.

Live and on-demand webcasts of each of the commencements will be available.

Law school commencement

Congressman Lewis was born in 1940 to Alabama sharecropper parents and was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. and the Montgomery Bus Boycott to join the fight against segregation. He has dedicated his life and career to civil rights and social equality activism and is now considered one of the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement. See the law school's story.

Commencement calendar

Following is a complete list of commencement dates, times and locations:

  • May 14 — School of Law at 11 a.m. at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts
  • May 21 — School of Veterinary Medicine at 4 p.m. at the Mondavi Center
  • May 28 — School of Medicine at 10 a.m. at the Mondavi Center
  • June 8 — School of Education at 4 p.m. at the Mondavi Center
  • June 9 — Graduate Studies at 4 p.m. in The Pavilion at the Activities and Recreation Center
  • June 10 — College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. in The Pavilion
  • June 11 — College of Letters and Science at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in The Pavilion
  • June 11 — Graduate School of Management at 9 a.m. at the Mondavi Center
  • June 12 — College of Biological Sciences at 9 a.m. in The Pavilion
  • June 12 — College of Engineering at 3 p.m. in The Pavilion

More information

Nine graduation celebrations for communities on campus will also be held through June 12. More information on these events and commencements, including ticket requirements for admission to most commencements, is available at the commencement website.

Estimates of degrees awarded will be available in June. In 2014-15, UC Davis conferred 7,120 bachelor’s, 657 professional, 891 master’s and 553 doctoral degrees.

Media Resources

Pamela Wu, School of Law, 530-754-7173,

Karen Nikos-Rose, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-219-5472,

Julia Ann Easley, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-752-8248,

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