Omalu Among Commencement Speakers at UC Davis

Streamers fall on graduates in caps and gowns.
Graduates celebrate at the conclusion of a College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences commencement. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Bennet Omalu, the doctor who inspired the Hollywood movie Concussion, will be among the guest speakers at the spring commencements of the University of California, Davis, this week through June 16.

The forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in deceased athletes and military veterans, will speak at the Graduate Studies commencement at 3 p.m. Thursday, June 13, at The Pavilion at the Activities and Recreation Center.

Other guest speakers:

  • Judge Troy L. Nunley of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Sacramento, May 18
  • Sharon Stevenson, president of patient advocacy company Bellwether Care Inc. and managing director of Okapi Venture Capital, Laguna Beach, May 24
  • Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor, California Community Colleges, June 12
  • Brian Underwood, co-founder of the company that developed the technology underlying high-definition video devices (HDMI) and digital visual interface (DVI), June 14

●︎ Omalu, a clinical professor and associate clinical physician in the UC Davis Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, has been honored by the American Medical Association and the U.S. Sports Academy. Concussion chronicles his discovery of CTE and the opposition he faced from the National Football League as he shared his concerns about the links between football and traumatic brain injury.

●︎ Nunley, who was appointed to the federal bench in 2013 after serving on the Sacramento Superior Court bench for 11 years, will deliver the commencement address at the School of Law ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. A professor at Lincoln Law School in Sacramento, Nunley has been recognized for his contributions to the community in the area of juvenile justice.

●︎ Stevenson, who earned a doctorate in comparative pathology from UC Davis in 1985, will speak at the School of Veterinary Medicine commencement at 3:30 p.m. Friday, May 24, at the Mondavi Center. She founded Bellwether Care to help patients, caregivers and families navigate the health care system and medical decisions. She also founded Okapi Venture Capital and guides its life sciences investments.

●︎ Oakley, who has served as chancellor of the 115-institution community college system for more than two years and is a member of the UC Board of Regents, will speak at the School of Education graduation celebration at 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, at the Mondavi Center.

●︎ Underwood, who earned a master’s degree in materials science and engineering from UC Davis in 1991, will return to speak at the College of Engineering commencement at 2 p.m. Friday, June 14, in The Pavilion. He owns and manages Whaleback SBG, which invests in high-tech startups, real estate and agricultural development. His entrepreneurial career includes co-founding Silicon Image Inc., the company with the technology behind HDMI and DVI; co-founding an internet travel search engine acquired by Kayak; and helping grow a speaker phone software startup acquired by Cisco Systems.

Commencement calendar

The university will recognize thousands of graduates with undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees as well as certificates in fields ranging from biological sciences to the humanities.

Following is a list of all commencements with times, dates and locations:

  • School of Medicine — 10 a.m. Friday, May 17, Mondavi Center
  • School of Law — 11 a.m. Saturday, May 18, Mondavi Center
  • School of Veterinary Medicine — 3:30 p.m Friday, May 24, Mondavi Center
  • School of Education — 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, Mondavi Center
  • Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing — 10 a.m. Thursday, June 13, Mondavi Center
  • Graduate Studies — 3 p.m. Thursday, June 13, The Pavilion
  • College of Biological Sciences — 9 a.m. Friday, June 14, The Pavilion
  • College of Engineering — 2 p.m. Friday, June 14, The Pavilion
  • College of Letters and Science — 9 a.m., and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, June 15, The Pavilion
  • Graduate School of Management — 10 a.m. Saturday, June 15, Mondavi Center
  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences — 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 16  The Pavilion

More information

In addition, eight campus communities will hold graduation celebrations from June 6 to 15. More information on these events and the commencements, including ticket requirements for admission to most commencements, is available on the commencement website.

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

In 2017-18, UC Davis conferred 8,802 bachelor’s, 634 professional, 949 master’s and 562 doctoral degrees as well as 23 post-baccalaureate certificates.

Media Resources

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

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