Sister Simone Campbell Among Guest Speakers at UC Davis Commencements

Sister Simone Campbell in front of a bus
Sister Simone Campbell greets supporters at a stop in South Bend, Indiana, on the first Nuns on the Bus tour in 2012. (James Brosher/ South Bend Tribune)
Photos of six guest speakers
Guest speakers, from left: Top row — Sister Simone Campbell, Leon Jones and Grace Bransford. Bottom row — Ed Manansala, Prem Jain and Kat Taylor.

Update May 25: Alfred Chuang, chairman and CEO of Magnet Systems in Palo Alto, California, has been named guest speaker for the College of Engineering commencement on June 16. Chuang received a master's degree in computer science from UC Davis.

May 16: Sister Simone Campbell — who became a national celebrity after authoring the “nuns’ letter” in support of the Affordable Care Act and helped spearhead the “Nuns on the Bus” tours for social justice — will be among the first commencement speakers at the University of California, Davis.

Leon Jones, a leader in advancing equity and inclusion in medical schools and associate dean for students at UC San Francisco’s School of Medicine, will speak at the School of Medicine commencement on Friday, May 19. Campbell, a 1977 graduate of the School of Law, will present the address at its ceremony on Saturday, May 20.

Other guest speakers at 13 ceremonies through June 18 are listed in chronological order:

  • Grace Bransford, veterinarian and owner of Ross Valley Veterinary Hospital in San Anselmo and a 1998 graduate of the School of Veterinary Medicine. (School of Veterinary Medicine, May 27)
  • Ed Manansala, El Dorado County superintendent of schools since January 2016 and a 2011 graduate of the School of Education with a doctorate in educational leadership (School of Education, June 14)
  • Prem Jain, entrepreneur and CEO of Santa Clara startup Pensando Systems and 1976 graduate of the master’s program in engineering (Graduate Studies, June 15)
  • Kat Taylor, co-founder and co-CEO of Beneficial State Bank, a community development financial institution, and founding director of the TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation (Graduate School of Management, June 17)

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

More about Sister Simone Campbell

Campbell, the commencement speaker for the law school, works on issues of immigration reform and health care as executive director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice in Washington, D.C.  

She joined the Sisters of Social Service in 1964 and had a long history of social activism before she became a national celebrity in 2010 following the publication of the “nuns’ letter.” During the summer of 2012, she led Nuns on the Bus, a NETWORK-organized tour in which sisters criticized federal budget cutbacks in services for the poor.

Campbell worked as a community organizer in Portland during the early ’70s until she realized she needed a legal education in order to best serve underrepresented communities. After graduating from UC Davis, she founded the Community Law Center in Oakland, oversaw the Sisters of Social Service’s activities in the United States and three other countries, and helped lead the interfaith advocacy group Jericho before assuming her present role.

In 2014, her book, A Nun on the Bus, was published, and the American Bar Association’s Human Rights magazine profiled her as a “Human Rights Hero.”

Commencement calendar

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

  • Friday, May 19 — School of Medicine at 9 a.m. at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts
  • Saturday, May 20 — School of Law at 11 a.m. at the Mondavi Center
  • Saturday, May 27 — School of Veterinary Medicine at 11 a.m. at the Mondavi Center
  • Wednesday, June 14 — School of Education at 4 p.m. at the Mondavi Center
  • Thursday, June 15 — Graduate Studies at 4 p.m. in The Pavilion at the Activities and Recreation Center
  • Friday, June 16 — College of Biological Sciences at 9 a.m. in The Pavilion
  • Friday, June 16 — College of Engineering at 3 p.m. in The Pavilion
  • Saturday, June 17 — Graduate School of Management at 10 a.m. at the Mondavi Center
  • Saturday, June 17 — College of Letters and Science at 9 a.m., and 2 and 7 p.m. in The Pavilion
  • Sunday, June 18 — College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. in The Pavilion

Ten graduation celebrations for communities on campus will also be held from May 25 through June 18. More information on these events and commencements, including ticket requirements for admission to most commencements, is available at the commencement website.

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

In 2015-16, UC Davis conferred a total of 9,652 degrees: 7,560 bachelor’s, 605 professional, 974 master’s and 513 doctoral degrees.

Media Resources

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

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