US & World

Obama to speak at UC Irvine commencement

Wilbert Cheng, student video producer/director, left, and Mamadou Ndiaye, UC Irvine's 7-feet-6-inch center, filmed a recorded invitation asking President Barack Obama to speak at the university's June 14 commencement ceremony. Obama accepted the invitation.
Wilbert Cheng, student video producer/director, left, and Mamadou Ndiaye, UC Irvine's 7-feet-6-inch center, filmed a recorded invitation asking President Barack Obama to speak at the university's June 14 commencement ceremony. Obama accepted the invitation.
Sherry L. K. Main / UC Irvine

President Barack Obama will address the class of 2014 at UC Irvine's commencement ceremony in June, the White House said Thursday. 

"UC Irvine does outstanding work at the undergraduate and graduate level in science and research, humanities, and professional studies, and the President looks forward to speaking with the graduates in June," Keith Maley, a regional spokesperson for the White House, wrote in an email to KPCC.

Earlier in March, students of the Orange County university sent the president a video invitation, which was posted to the student body government's YouTube page. UCI announced Thursday that Obama had accepted the invitation.

Video: UCI students invite President Obama to speak at commencement

"We are thrilled that the President has accepted our invitation to deliver the keynote address at our commencement exercises this June," Chancellor Michael V. Drake said in a news release.

The commencement comes on the 50th anniversary of the university's groundbreaking and dedication ceremonies, at which President Lyndon B. Johnson spoke. Johnson had recently unveiled his package of civil rights legislation known as the "Great Society" agenda.

"I have come to California to ask you to throw off your doubts about America," Johnson said, just a day after the legislation was passed in the Senate, according to the university. "Help us demonstrate to the world that people of compassion and commitment can free their fellow citizens from the bonds of injustice, the prisons of poverty and the chains of ignorance."

Fifty years later, nearly 50 percent of UCI's diverse class of 2014 are first-generation college graduates, the university noted.

"We are proud of the progress we have made during our first half century, and are looking forward to even greater achievements in the years to come," Drake said.

Obama will speak at a special unified ceremony including undergraduate, graduate and professional schools at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 14.

Separate ceremonies to recognize individual graduates will be held on a school-by-school basis at the main campus on June 15 and 16. 

This story has been updated.