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Desmond Tutu Will Speak at BC's Commencement

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, world statesman and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, will be the speaker and receive an honorary degree at Berea College’s 133rd Commencement in its 150th year, on Sunday, May 22. Tutu, whose daughter, Naomi earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Berea in 1983, will address the 241 candidates for graduation in the ceremony on the Draper Quadrangle beginning at 2 p.m.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Eastern Kentucky healthcare advocate Eula Hall also will be awarded an honorary degree from Berea. Both she and Tutu will receive the honorary degree of doctor of humane letters.

Additional seating for the ceremony will be available in air-conditioned Phelps Stokes Chapel, adjacent to the Quadrangle, where Commencement exercises can be viewed live on a large screen. In case of rain, Commencement will be held in Seabury Center. Under the rain plan, only guests with pre-arranged tickets will be admitted to Seabury (infants under age 2 do not need a ticket). All other guests should plan to view the ceremony in Phelps Stokes Chapel.

Earlier in the day, Stacy F. Sauls, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington, will be the speaker for the Baccalaureate Service in Phelps Stokes Chapel at 10:30. Other events include The Nurses Pinning Service is scheduled for 9 a.m. in Union Church and a reception for all graduates, family and friends at approximately 4 p.m. on the Quadrangle outside Seabury Center (Old Seabury Gymnasium in case of rain).

In his role as General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches from 1978-85, Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu became a national and international leader in the crusade for justice, racial conciliation and the end of apartheid, South Africa’s system of racial segregation and discrimination. In recognition of his contributions to that cause, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. In 1986, he was elected Bishop of Johannesburg and in 1986 was elevated to Archbishop of Cape Town, where he did much to bridge the gap between black and white Anglicans in his country and became the principal mediator and conciliator in the transition to democracy in South Africa. In 1995, President Nelson Mandela appointed him Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a body set up to probe gross human rights violations that occurred under apartheid, and on which Tutu served until 2003.

Shortly after his retirement in 1996, Tutu was granted the title of Archbishop Emeritus. Since then, as an elder statesman with a world-wide ministry as well, he has campaigned against HIV/AIDS, making appearances around the globe to help raise awareness of the disease and its tragic consequences. He has been a visiting professor at several universities and has published six books, the most recent being “God has a Dream.” Archbishop Tutu has been awarded 109 honorary doctorates and received more than 100 awards.

Born in 1931 in Klerksdorp, South Africa, Tutu was ordained to the Anglican ministry in 1961 and later earned bachelor and master of divinity degrees from King’s College, London. He held teaching and administrative positions in South Africa from 1967-1976. He was Bishop of Lesotho from 1976-78, the position he held when he became leader of the SAAC. He and his wife Leah have a son and three daughters.

Hall has been a community organizer for almost 40 years and is the founder of the Mud Creek Clinic in Floyd County, Ky. Begun in 1973 with $1,400 in donations, the Clinic in Grethel now serves more than 7,000 patients a year from a modern 5,200 square foot facility and is the only clinic in Floyd County that provides health care based on one’s ability to pay. Hall, who grew up in Pike County, also educates others to become social activists, focusing on environmental and economic issues that affect community health.

Sauls has been Bishop of Lexington since 2000. At the time of his election, he was youngest bishop in the Episcopal Church. A native of Atlanta, Ga., Sauls earned his bachelor’s degree from Furman University and a master of divinity degree from the General Theological Seminary. He also holds a degree of Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia and practiced law in Atlanta, Ga. before attending seminary. Before being elected bishop, Bishop Sauls served churches in Atlanta and Savannah, Ga. In addition to serving on numerous boards and committees within the Episcopal Church, Bishop Sauls has helped found a clinic, an alternative school and a food bank. He has a strong interest in ministry with Hispanics, the homeless, people with AIDS and the youth of the Lexington Diocese.

Parking for the day's events will be available in the lower Seabury Center lot off Campus Drive and in lots and street spaces throughout campus. Those needing to can drop off guests behind the Draper Building before parking. Additional parking will be available in the Berea Community School parking lot off Ellipse Street, with shuttle service to campus.

For additional information or other updates, contact Julie Sowell or Tim Jordan, Berea College Public Relations, at (859) 985-3028, or visit Berea's website at

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