Carnegie Mellon University
April 2, 2019

Dear Members of the Carnegie Mellon University Community:

I am delighted to announce that alumnus Leslie Odom, Jr. will be the keynote speaker at Carnegie Mellon's 122nd Commencement at 11 a.m., Sunday, May 19, in Gesling Stadium on our Pittsburgh campus.

Leslie, who earned his bachelor’s degree from our College of Fine Arts in 2003, is a Tony and Grammy Award-winning actor, singer and dancer best known for his breakout role as Aaron Burr in the smash hit Broadway musical “Hamilton.” Leslie won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in “Hamilton” and a Grammy as a principal soloist on the original cast recording. His self-titled debut album charted at #1 on the Billboard Jazz Chart in 2016, and he is the author of “Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning.”

This year’s student speaker will be Hamza Qureshi, who is earning his bachelor’s degree in architecture with an additional major in human-computer interaction. Hamza has been an active member of the student body, serving on the Undergraduate Student Senate, on the School of Architecture’s Student Advisory Council, as an Orientation leader and as an academic coach with Carnegie Mellon’s Academic Development Department.

As many of you know, it is a Carnegie Mellon tradition to award honorary degrees at commencement to exemplary leaders, whose life and work serve as an inspiration for Carnegie Mellon students, faculty and staff. In addition to Leslie, who will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, this year's honorary class includes:

Darlene Clark Hine is a leading historian of the African-American experience who helped found the field of black women’s history and has been one of its most prolific scholars. Darlene, who will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, is a recipient of the National Humanities Medal and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Alumnus David M. Kelley (1973) is the founder of the global design and innovation company IDEO and Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design — commonly referred to as the He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and is a recipient of the National Design Award and the Edison Achievement Award for Innovation. He will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Science and Technology.

Alumni John Shaffner and Joe Stewart (Class of 1976 and 1977, respectively) are among the most recognized and prolific production designers in television today. They have earned 39 Primetime and Daytime Emmy Award nominations and have won six Emmys. Some of their most notable work includes production design for the landmark comedies “The Big Bang Theory,” “Friends” and “Two and a Half Men.” Both will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts.
I invite you to learn more about the speakers and honorary degree recipients.

Congratulations in advance to the Class of 2019 and to these prestigious and deserving honorary degree recipients.


Farnam Jahanian
Henry L. Hillman President's Chair
Carnegie Mellon University

— Commencement 2019