Global media leader, philanthropist, producer and actress Oprah Winfrey will deliver the commencement address for Agnes Scott College’s 128th graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 13, at 9:30 a.m.
Winfrey will receive an honorary degree at commencement.
“We are educating our students to become global change agents who have the courage, compassion and commitment to make a difference in the world. Oprah Winfrey is a phenomenal model of leading a purpose-driven life with her impressive legacy of leadership, philanthropy and service. We are honored and thrilled to welcome her to our college to share an inspiring and empowering message with our 2017 graduates as they embark on the next stage of their life’s journey,” said Elizabeth Kiss, president of Agnes Scott College.
For 25 years, Winfrey was host of the award-winning talk show “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” As chairperson and CEO, she is guiding her successful cable network, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, is the founder of “O, The Oprah Magazine” and oversees Harpo Films. In 2013, Winfrey was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
An Academy Award-nominated actress for her role in “The Color Purple,” Winfrey has appeared in a number of notable productions including the upcoming HBO Films’ “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and will portray “Mrs. Which” in Disney’s “Wrinkle in Time” film adaptation scheduled for release in April 2018.
Winfrey is also one of the most active philanthropists in the world, donating more than $20 million to the creation of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, to which she has contributed more than $100 million to educate academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. A member of this year’s senior class is a graduate of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.
Deborah Bial, president and founder of the Posse Foundation, an award-winning national youth leadership and college access program, will also receive an honorary degree at commencement and offer remarks to the graduating class.
Since its founding in 1989, the Posse Foundation has helped to send nearly 8,000 young people of diverse backgrounds to partner colleges and universities. Posse Scholars are recruited from cities across the country and placed in cohorts of 10, called “posses,” for training and mentorship support. Each receives a four-year, full-tuition scholarship from their host institution. Posse Scholars currently graduate at a rate of 90 percent, with many rising to leadership positions on campus and in their professional careers. Bial has been honored with many awards for her work with Posse including a MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Agnes Scott has been a Posse partner college since 2013, enrolling Posse Scholars from Chicago.
“We are delighted to award Deborah Bial an honorary degree at this year’s commencement ceremony, as we celebrate the graduation of our very first Posse. A visionary educational leader, she has touched the lives of thousands of bright and promising students by pushing the doors of opportunity open so that they can achieve their dreams,” said President Kiss.
Agnes Scott’s Baccalaureate Vespers service will be held on Friday, May 12, at 4:30 p.m. in Gaines Chapel on the campus. The Rev. Pam Driesell, senior pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, will bring the message to our graduates this year. Baccalaureate is a multifaith worship service providing an opportunity for graduates and their families to pause and reflect as they prepare to begin the next chapter of their lives.
Driesell earned a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, where she was awarded the James T. Galloway Prize in Expository Preaching. At Trinity, her focus areas are visionary leadership, preaching and worship, pastoral care and empowering excellence in education and mission.
Agnes Scott College educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times. Students are drawn to Agnes Scott by its excellent academic reputation, exceptional faculty and metropolitan Atlanta location — offering myriad social, cultural and experiential learning opportunities. This highly selective liberal arts college is known for its diverse and dynamic intellectual community. Through SUMMIT, it provides every student, regardless of major, with an individualized course of study and co-curricular experiences that develop leadership abilities and understanding of complex global dynamics.