MEDIA ADVISORY: Ed Helms, Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Dean Bob Bruner to Speak at University of Virginia Valedictory and Final Exercises May 15-17

May 11, 2015

The University of Virginia will hold two Final Exercises ceremonies this year to accommodate ongoing restoration work on the Rotunda.

The first will be held on Saturday, May 16 for students in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. The second will be held on Sunday, May 17 for students in all other schools. Both ceremonies will be held on the Lawn, with processions beginning at 10 a.m.

Valedictory Exercises will be held Friday, May 15 on the Lawn, beginning at 4 p.m.

Media interested in covering any or all of these events should note the following:

  • Each media member must be credentialed, including all members of TV crews. To obtain credentials, email Penney Catlett of University Communications at by May 14.
  • Parking for media will be available in the R2 lot, located near the Physics Building and Bavaro Hall. Dashboard permits will be required. Parking is limited and passes will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Additional public parking will be available at several locations, including Scott Stadium and John Paul Jones Arena. Shuttle bus service to the Lawn is provided. (More information here.)
  • Credentials and parking permits can be picked up at the University Communications Office, 400 Ray C. Hunt Drive in Fontaine Research Park, until 5 p.m. on May 15, or outside of Garrett Hall on Saturday and Sunday mornings, beginning at 8 a.m.
  • While on Grounds, you must display your credentials.
  • Satellite trucks and vans will not be permitted on Central Grounds.
  • There will be a camera platform in the media area on the south end of the Lawn in front of the stage for both Valediction and Final Exercises. By the time the Academic Procession begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, all TV cameras must be in the media area. Still photographers will not be allowed to walk with graduates during the procession.
  • The media area on the Lawn will accommodate only a few TV cameras. Requests will be handled on a space-available basis.

Valedictory and Final Exercises will be livestreamed at

For more information, visit the University’s Finals website.

Media needing assistance over the weekend may call Anthony de Bruyn, University spokesperson, at 512-560-1780; or Matt Charles, deputy spokesperson, at 434-203-6313.

About the speakers:

• Actor, writer and comedian Ed Helms will be the featured speaker at Valedictory Exercises on May 15. Helms rose to fame with his political comedy and satire during a five-year stint on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” followed by a seven-year run portraying Andy Bernard on NBC’s hit comedy “The Office.”

He landed his biggest feature film hit to date in 2009 when he co-starred with Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis in the first installment of “The Hangover” franchise, which won a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical. In his next film, “Vacation,” Helms will play Rusty Griswold, son of Clark Griswold from National Lampoon’s beloved “Vacation” series.

Helms is the co-founder of the production company Pacific Electric Picture Co., which develops and produces television shows and feature films. He sits on the board of trustees at his alma mater, Oberlin College, and on the advisory board for Education Through Music – Los Angeles, which funds and provides curricular materials for music education in the city. He has also worked closely with charities including Malaria No More, Artists for Peace and Justice and Stand Up To Cancer.

Helms is a bluegrass enthusiast and continues to play banjo in The Lonesome Trio bluegrass band, which he formed at Oberlin College more than twenty years ago. His musical roots also connected him to U.Va. During a 2012 episode of “The Office,” Helms’ character sang with U.Va. men’s a cappella group The Hullabahoos. Halsted Sullivan, a writer and producer on “The Office,” is a 1989 U.Va. graduate and a founding member of the Hullabahoos.

• Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will deliver the commencement address for Saturday’s Final Exercises.

McAuliffe was sworn in as Virginia’s 72nd governor in January. Since taking office, he has prioritized Virginia’s economic development, working to diversify the economy and encourage more businesses to locate operations in the commonwealth. Additional policy priorities include investing in transportation infrastructure, increasing research and development in Virginia, education reform and a health care plan, A Healthy Virginia, that aims to expand health care access for more than 200,000 Virginians.

Prior to assuming the governorship, McAuliffe was a veteran businessman with experience in real estate development, home building, Internet venture capitalism and banking, serving as chairman of the board at the Federal City National Bank in Washington, D.C.

McAuliffe has long been a significant player in the Democratic Party. From 2001 to 2005 he served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He also co-chaired President Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign and chaired Hillary Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 2008. His memoir, “What a Party! My Life Among Democrats: Presidents, Candidates, Donors, Activists, Alligators and Other Wild Animals,” was based on these experiences and became a New York Times bestseller.

McAuliffe’s keynote address will fulfill a long-standing tradition at the University of inviting Virginia’s governor to speak at Final Exercises during his time in office.

• Robert Bruner, the eighth dean of U.Va.’s Darden School of Business, will deliver the commencement address for Sunday’s Final Exercises. Bruner will complete his 10-year tenure at the end of this academic year. Under his leadership, Darden has consistently been listed among the best business schools in the world, currently ranked as the No. 3 global MBA program by The Economist. In 2011, CNN Money, Fortune and Poets and Quants each honored Bruner as Dean of the Year, in part for his work as the chairman of a task force on the globalization of management.

Among business school deans, Bruner is recognized for his innovative approach to social media and technology. He is an avid blogger, often discoursing on education philosophy, current events and favorite books. He also led Darden’s foray into online education, including several massive open online courses enrolling more than 600,000 students.

Prior to his appointment as dean, Bruner had been a faculty member at Darden for 23 years, specializing in finance and management. As a financial economist, he is best known for his research on mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and financial panics. He has authored or co-authored more than 300 case studies and several books, including “Deals from Hell,” “Applied Mergers and Acquisitions” and “The Panic of 1907: Lessons Learned from the Market’s Perfect Storm”.

Bruner’s commencement address will mark one of his last major public appearances before he transfers the deanship to Scott Beardsley, who will begin his term as Darden’s ninth dean on Aug. 1. Beardsley is currently a senior partner of McKinsey & Company, where he leads learning and leadership development for all McKinsey professionals.

Media Contact

Anthony P. de Bruyn

University Spokesperson Office of University Communications