Notre Dame Will Skip Key Honor at Graduation

May 1, 2009


The University of Notre Dame's graduation saga continues: The university's graduates will hear from a recipient of one of the university's key honors, but no such honor will be awarded this year. Mary Ann Glendon, a professor at Harvard University's law school, was to have received the Laetare Medal, which goes to a Roman Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” But Glendon declined the honor due to the controversy over the university's invitation to President Obama to speak to graduates at commencement. On Thursday, Notre Dame announced that a federal appeals court judge -- John T. Noonan Jr., who received the medal in 1984, would deliver the talk traditionally made at graduation by the person receiving the medal. “In thinking about who could bring a compelling voice, a passion for dialogue, great intellectual stature, and a deep commitment to Catholic values to the speaking role of the Laetare Medalist – especially in these unusual circumstances – it quickly became clear that an ideal choice is Judge Noonan,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. “This commencement ceremony, more than anything else, is a celebration of our students and their families. Judge Noonan will join with President Obama and other speakers in that celebration, sending them from our campus and into the world with sound advice and affirmation. Since Judge Noonan is a previous winner of the Laetare Medal, we have decided, upon reflection, to not award the medal this year.”

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