Gonzaga Announces 2024 Commencement Guest Speakers

Student holding Gonzaga Grad diploma.

March 22, 2024
Gonzaga University News Service
When this year’s Gonzaga University graduates congregate May 11-12 for the school’s 131st Commencement ceremonies, they’ll be addressed by three guest speakers and honorees who exemplify GU’s mission of educating students for lives of leadership and service for the common good. Gonzaga University is proud to announce that former Secretary of Defense and civil servant Dr. Robert Gates will speak at the Law commencement ceremonies; alumna Angelique Albert, current CEO of the Native Forward Scholars Fund, will address members completing their graduate and doctoral degrees; and distinguished alumnus, scholar and academic administrator Dr. Edward Taylor will speak at the undergraduate commencement ceremonies.

Learn more about each of the 2024 Gonzaga Commencement guest speakers:

Robert Gates (School of Law Commencement)

Dr. Gates earned a Ph.D. in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University. Over the course of seven different Republican and Democratic presidential administrations, he served as U.S. Secretary of Defense and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, with President Barack Obama acknowledging his contributions to our nation by awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has also been the president of Texas A&M University, chancellor of the College of William & Mary, and president of the Boy Scouts of America. Gates will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and speak at the School of Law commencement Saturday, May 11, at 9 a.m. in the McCarthey Athletic Center.

Angelique Albert (Graduate Commencement)

Ms. Albert is the chief executive officer of the Native Forward Scholars Fund, the largest provider of direct scholarships to Native students in the United States. Since its inception 50 years ago, the fund has awarded more than $400 million in scholarships to over 20,000 Native scholars from over 500 tribes. She is a mission-driven leader with expertise in public service, philanthropy, social justice and providing essential resources and support for Native students to fulfill their academic and professional aspirations. An enrolled member of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribe and first-generation college student, Albert pursued her undergraduate studies at Salish Kootenai College and the University of Montana and completed her MBA in 2015 at Gonzaga with a concentration in American Indian Entrepreneurship. In addition to her extensive work in the nonprofit, philanthropy, business, education and tribal gaming sectors — including the Potlatch Fund, Salish Kootenai College Foundation and Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper organization — Albert has spent more than 40 years creating artwork that introduces traditional Native culture to contemporary America. Albert will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and speak at the graduate and doctoral commencement ceremony Saturday, May 11, at noon at McCarthey Athletic Center.

Edward Taylor (Undergraduate Commencement)

Dr. Edward “Ed” Taylor is the Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs at the University of Washington. He has dedicated his life to service leadership, improving academic access by addressing and reducing inequities, and ensuring that educational institutions are places of belonging. A men’s basketball team co-captain, Taylor earned undergraduate degrees in sociology and psychology and a master’s degree in psychology at Gonzaga before earning his Ph.D. at the University of Washington. He is a highly respected voice in educational leadership and policy studies and has taught and written extensively on community, racial reconciliation and civil discourse. He has also served Gonzaga with distinction as a member of the GU Board of Trustees since 2007, becoming a Trustee Emeritus in 2024. Taylor will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree and will speak at the Undergraduate Commencement Sunday, May 12, at 9:30 a.m. at Spokane Arena.
Learn more about Gonzaga University's 131st commencement!