MEDIA ADVISORY: Peyton Manning, Ray Mabus to Speak at University of Virginia Valedictory and Final Exercises on May 17 and 18

May 13, 2014

The University of Virginia’s Class Valedictory Exercises will be held May 17, and Final Exercises will be held May 18.

Saturday’s ceremony begins at 11 a.m. The Academic Procession and Final Exercises begin at 10 a.m. Sunday. Both events will be held on the Lawn. In case of severe weather, the ceremonies will be held at John Paul Jones Arena.

Media interested in covering either event 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 15.
  • 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 University Hall. 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 16, or at the Rotunda (Office of Development entrance) on Saturday and Sunday mornings starting at 8 a.m.
  • While on Grounds, you must display your credentials.
  • Satellite trucks and vans will not be permitted on Central Grounds.
  • TV cameras may film on the north side of the Rotunda (the public side) where graduates congregate. There will also 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 starts on Sunday at 10 a.m., 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 information, visit the University’s Finals website.

Media needing assistance on Saturday or Sunday may call Rebecca Arrington, assistant director of media relations, at 434-249-3920, or Anthony de Bruyn, deputy chief of university relations, at 512-560-1780.

About the speakers:

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, a five-time winner of the National Football League’s Most Valuable Player award and founder of a charitable organization that has donated more than $6.5 million in grants and programs to youth-based community organizations, will be the featured speaker at Valedictory Exercises on May 17.

Manning’s wife, Ashley, is a 1997 graduate of U.Va.’s McIntire School of Commerce.

Manning founded the PeyBack Foundation in 1999 “to promote the future success of disadvantaged youth by assisting programs that provide leadership and growth opportunities for children at risk.” The foundation supports youth-based community organizations in Colorado (where he plays for the Denver Broncos), Indiana (where he began his NFL career with the Indianapolis Colts), Tennessee (where he starred at the University of Tennessee) and Louisiana (his home state).

Additionally, Manning maintains a strong relationship with the former St. Vincent’s Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, which in 2007 was renamed the “Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent.” He started the Peyton Manning Scholarship program at the University of Tennessee that has honored 20 incoming students in the past 16 years for their academic achievement, leadership and community service. He is a member of the Board of Visitors for the University of Tennessee’s College of Arts and Sciences, the National Football Foundation Scholarship Athlete Advisory Board and the American Red Cross National Celebrity Cabinet.

Though he has a reputation for being exacting on the football field, he has also shown a lighter side. He hosted a well-received episode of “Saturday Night Live” in March 2007, and is a master pitchman in humorous television advertisements, often appearing alongside his younger brother, Eli, the star quarterback of the NFL’s New York Giants.

Ray Mabus, the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, will deliver the commencement address. The former governor of Mississippi and ambassador to Saudi Arabia will speak on the Lawn following the traditional academic procession.

Since beginning his tenure in 2009 as the top civilian official in the U.S. Navy, Mabus has taken on several goals: improving the quality of life of sailors, Marines and their families; decreasing the department’s dependence on fossil fuels; and revitalizing the Navy’s shipbuilding program. Last year, he introduced the “21st Century Sailor and Marine” initiative, which aims to build and maintain the most resilient and ready force possible.

Mabus has directed the Navy and Marine Corps to obtain at least 50 percent of their energy from alternative sources by 2020. As part of that ambitious goal, the Navy last year demonstrated the Great Green Fleet, a carrier strike group in which every ship and aircraft operated on nuclear energy, biofuels and other alternative energy sources.

Mabus is responsible for a U.S. Navy that employs almost 900,000 people, commanding a budget of more than $170 billion. As leader of the world’s sole global navy, Mabus has traveled nearly 715,000 miles to more than 95 different countries to maintain and develop relationships with other national and international leaders and to visit with sailors and Marines deployed or stationed around the world.

Increasing the size of the U.S. naval fleet and protecting the industrial base have been top priorities during Mabus’ tenure. Under Mabus, the Navy has gone from building fewer than five ships a year to having more than 60 ships under contract.

In addition, Mabus was appointed by President Obama in June 2010 to prepare the long-term recovery plan for the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Mabus’ report drew bipartisan support, and Congress enacted many of its recommendations as the Restore Act. The law included a fund to aid in the Gulf Coast’s recovery by distributing 80 percent of any civil penalties awarded as a result of the damage caused by the disaster.

Before his appointment as Secretary of the Navy, Mabus served as governor of Mississippi from 1988 to 1992, the youngest individual elected to that office in more than 150 years. Mabus was ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 1994 to 1996 and later was chairman and CEO of a manufacturing company.

A native of Ackerman, Mississippi, he received a bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Mississippi, a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, and a law degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School. After Johns Hopkins, Mabus served in the Navy as an officer aboard the cruiser USS Little Rock.

Media Contact

Anthony P. de Bruyn

University Spokesperson Office of University Communications