Contact: Robin Florzak


Five nationally prominent figures who have contributed enormously to the fields of human and civil rights, business, politics and theater will speak and receive honorary degrees at DePaul University's 102nd commencement June 10 and 11.

Anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, U.S. Commerce Secretary William Daley, civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson, broadcast journalist Bill Kurtis and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson will deliver addresses at the five graduation ceremonies of DePaul's commencement weekend. Diplomas will be awarded to the Class of 2000--more than 3,000 students who have completed degree programs in DePaul's eight schools and colleges.

Prejean, the author of Dead Man Walking, who was depicted in the critically acclaimed movie of the same name, will deliver the commencement address at DePaul's Liberal Arts & Sciences graduation ceremony, which begins at 3 p.m. June 10 at Navy Pier, Festival Hall A, 600 E. Grand Ave.

A Catholic nun who has offered spiritual counseling to death row inmates, Prejean currently is leading a petition drive for a moratorium on the death penalty in the United States.

Illinois Republican Gov. George Ryan declared a moratorium on executions earlier this year, the first capital punishment state to take such a stand. The action came after more than a dozen men on Illinois' death row were freed based on DNA evidence and other reasons.

Daley, a member of President Bill Clinton's economic team, will speak at the College of Commerce commencement ceremony, which begins at 10:30 a.m. June 11 at Navy Pier, Festival Hall A. As commerce secretary, Daley oversees a far-reaching department that promotes American business, keeps a vast array of business statistics, issues patents and trademarks, sets industrial standards, conducts oceanic research, forecasts the weather and conducts the census.
Daley has promoted policies that encourage the expansion of electronic commerce and increased use of the Internet among small- and medium-sized businesses.

The College of Commerce also will present an honorary degree to Edmund L. Jenkins, chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, at the graduation ceremony.

Jackson will speak at the combined commencement ceremony for the School of Education, School for New Learning and School of Computer Science, Telecommunications and Information Systems that begins at 10:30 a.m. June 10 at Navy Pier, Festival Hall A. A renowned orator and Baptist minister, Jackson has played a pivotal role for the last 30 years in a wide range of movements for empowerment, peace, civil rights, gender equality, and economic and social justice. A presidential candidate in 1984 and 1988, Jackson has mediated several international disputes. He is the founder of the Chicago-based Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, a national organization fighting for social change.

Wilson, a distinguished playwright who has twice won the Pulizer Prize for drama, will speak at the combined Theatre School and School of Music commencement ceremonies that begin at 8:45 a.m. June 10 at the Merle Reskin Theatre, 60 E. Balbo Drive. A native of Pittsburgh, Wilson has penned a series of plays that chronicle the African-American experience during each decade of the 20th century. Among his works are "The Piano Lesson," "Fences" and "Jitney."
At the same graduation ceremony, George Perle, a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and School of Music alumnus, will be presented with an honorary degree by the School of Music.

Kurtis, a respected broadcast journalist whose work spans three decades, will speak at the College of Law commencement ceremony that begins at 2:30 p.m. June 11 at Navy Pier, Festival Hall A. An attorney as well as a prolific documentary producer, he heads the Chicago-based Kurtis Productions and hosts "American Justice," "Investigative Reports" and "The New Explorers" series on the A&E cable network. Kurtis, who has won more than 20 Emmy awards from the Chicago Chapter of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, is a former news anchor for "CBS Morning News" and WBBM-TV.

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