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Howard Holds its 137th Commencement Convocation for
Largest Class in School's History

(Washington, May 11, 2005) - Howard University will observe its 137th Commencement Convocation on Saturday, May 14, at 10 a.m. on the main campus.  Former NAACP chairman, Kweisi Mfume, Hon. LL.D., will be the guest orator.  He will receive a Special Citation of Achievement prior to delivering the commencement address to the approximately 2800 graduates in the Class of 2005, the largest in Howard’s history. 

 “This year, there are 2,897 graduates, making this the largest graduating class in history at Howard University,” said President H. Patrick Swygert. “We are pleased indeed to be celebrating our students’ success, triumphs and the passion and determination that sustained their dreams along the way.”

As a member of Congress, Mfume served as chair of the Joint Economic Committee of the House and Senate; co-sponsored and helped to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act; co-authored and successfully amended the Civil Rights Bill of 1991 to apply the act to U.S. citizens working for American-based companies abroad; as well as sponsored legislative initiatives banning assault weapons and establishing stalking as a federal crime.

Additionally, Mfume served as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and later as the Caucus' chair of the Task Force on Affirmative Action. During his last term in Congress, he was appointed by the House Democratic Caucus as the vice chair for communications.

A native of Baltimore, Mfume graduated magna cum laude from Morgan State University and later returned as an adjunct professor, teaching courses in political science and communications. In 1984, he earned a master’s degree in liberal arts, with a concentration in international studies, from Johns Hopkins University.

Honoree degree recipients include: Cathy Liggins Hughes, Radio One founder and CEO, the Doctor of Humane Letters; Dr. Benjamin Patton, president, Tuskegee University, Doctor of Humane Letters; and Frank Savage, CEO of Savage Holdings LLC, Doctor of Humanities.

Cathy Liggins Hughes is the founder and chairperson of Radio One Inc., the largest African-American owned and operated broadcast company in the nation. Radio One is the first African American company in history to dominate several major markets simultaneously, and it is the first female-owned radio station to rank #1 in any major market. In May 1999, Hughes made history again by becoming the first African-American woman with a company on the stock exchange. Radio One’s value is currently in excess of $2 billion dollars. Hughes’ career began in 1973 when she was named general sales manager of Howard’s WHUR-96.3 FM.

Dr. Benjamin Franklin Payton is the fifth president of Tuskegee University, serving since 1981. During his tenure the school has received several new structural and non-structural additions, including the Gen. Daniel "Chappie" James Center for Aerospace Science Engineering and Health Education and the Tuskegee University National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care. Payton received a B.A. with honors from South Carolina State University in 1955; a B.D. from Harvard University in 1958; a M.A. from Columbia University in 1960; and a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1963.

Frank Savage, Board of Trustees chairman emeritus, is CEO of Savage Holdings LLC, a closely held company that advises global clients on investing and doing business in international markets and provides consulting and advisory services, generally in the financial services industry. He has a 33-year career in international banking, corporate finance, and global investment management. Savage received a B.A. in 1962 from Howard University, a M.A. in 1968 from the Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, and a Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa from Hofstra University.

Howard University is one of 48 U.S. private, Doctoral/Research-Extensive universities and comprises 12 schools and colleges. Founded in 1867, students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. Since 1998, the University has produced two Rhodes Scholars, a Truman Scholar, six Fulbright Scholars and nine Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D.s than any other university in the world.    For more information on Howard University, call 202-238-2330, or visit the University’s web site at


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