President Barack Obama accepts invitation as Rutgers 250th commencement speakerPhoto by Marielle SumergidoNovember 2015 | U.S. President Barack Obama will speak to the class of 2016 on May 15 at 12:30 p.m.
President Barack Obama will be addressing graduating seniors at this year's 250th anniversary commencement in May, according to a White House press release.
“This is the first time in Rutgers University’s history that a sitting president has agreed to speak at commencement,” said Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi.
Barchi said Obama’s decision is a "testament to the enthusiastic efforts of Rutgers students, faculty, staff and alumni." He also said the decision was a proof of the efforts of members of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation, who in 2013, began sending messages to the White House urging him to speak at the University.
"Rutgers prides itself on its commitment to diversity and has been recognized as one of the most diverse universities in the nation,” read the letter sent by multiple New Jersey politicians. “Additionally, Rutgers is committed to introducing first-generation, low-income, and academically motivated students."
Obama will deliver a speech during the Rutgers—New Brunswick Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 15, at 12:30 p.m. at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway.
More than 12,000 graduates, representing 22 academic units from Rutgers—New Brunswick and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, are scheduled to receive their academic degrees. More than 52,000 are expected to attend the ceremony.
Last week, the University announced Bill Moyers as this year’s commencement speaker, disappointing students who believed President Barack Obama would be the 250th anniversary speaker. The University will present honorary degrees to broadcast journalist Bill Moyers and astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell.
With news of Obama as commencement speaker, Barchi said he is looking forward to May.
“We are delighted that President Obama has chosen to address our graduates at this year’s historic commencement,” Barchi said.
The University is working with the White House on preparations for Obama's visit, according to an email sent to students.
"As we receive information on the logistics we will inform the Rutgers community," read the email. "We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work with the White House in preparing for this historic event."
Avalon Zoppo is the managing editor of The Daily Targum. She is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science. Follow her on Twitter @AvalonZoppo for more stories.