MEDIA ADVISORY: Stephen Colbert, Jim Webb to Speak at University of Virginia Valedictory and Final Exercises on May 18 and 19

May 10, 2013

The University of Virginia’s Class Valedictory Exercises will be held May 18, and Final Exercises will be held May 19.

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 16.
  • 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 parking for cars 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 17, 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 McGregor McCance, interim director of media relations, at 434-326-2311, or Anthony de Bruyn, interim chief communications officer, at 512-560-1780.

About the speakers:

Stephen Colbert, the host, co-writer and executive producer of Comedy Central’s Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning series “The Colbert Report,” will be the keynote speaker at Valedictory Exercises on May 18.

Colbert is a best-selling author, political satirist, writer, comedian and former presidential candidate. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he majored in theater.

Colbert’s wife, Evelyn McGee Colbert, is a 1985 alumna of U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences. She majored in drama and English and participated in several summer productions of the Heritage Repertory Theatre, now the Heritage Theatre Festival.

James Henry “Jim” Webb, a former U.S. Senator and Secretary of the Navy, decorated Vietnam War veteran and successful journalist, filmmaker and author, will deliver the commencement address at Final Exercises on May 19.

Webb arrived in the Senate in 2007, following his first run for political office, and with many years of experience in military and veterans affairs. On his first day in office, he introduced a comprehensive 21st-century GI Bill for those who have been serving in the military since 9/11, and within 16 months had guided the most significant veterans’ legislation since World War II through both houses of Congress.

Born in Missouri in 1946, Webb graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in l968. First in his class of 243 at the Marine Corps Officers’ Basic School in Quantico, Webb served with the Fifth Marine Regiment in Vietnam and was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals and two Purple Hearts during his active-duty service.

Webb received his J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center in 1975. He served the U.S. Congress as counsel to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs from 1977 to 1981. In 1982, he led the fight for including an African-American soldier in the memorial statue that now graces the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, and wrote the inscription at the base of the flagpole. In 1984, he was appointed the inaugural assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs. In 1987, he became the first Naval Academy graduate in history to serve in the military and then become Secretary of the Navy.

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