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Last modified: Friday, April 12, 2013

David Brooks, Alecia DeCoudreaux to serve as IU Bloomington commencement speakers

April 12, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- New York Times columnist David Brooks and Mills College President Alecia DeCoudreaux will be speakers at Indiana University Bloomington commencement ceremonies next month.

Honorary doctoral degrees will be presented to Brooks, one of the nation's leading public intellectuals, and DeCoudreaux, an alumna of the IU Maurer School of Law and a distinguished lawyer, educator and leader.

"We are extremely honored that these two distinguished leaders will be addressing our graduates this spring in Bloomington," said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. "David Brooks is one of the most respected political and cultural observers of our time. Alecia DeCoudreaux, an alumna of our Maurer School of Law, had a distinguished business and legal career and has combined integrity, tenacity and a keen intellect to bring important change through her community service and work, now in academia. Our graduates have much to learn from the passion and thoughtfulness that our speakers have employed throughout their remarkable careers."

"Our graduate and undergraduate students are truly fortunate to have the opportunity to spend their commencement ceremonies with David Brooks and Alecia de Coudreaux," said IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel. "Both are thoughtful, dynamic leaders who exemplify the power of education and the deep rewards of a life of the mind."

Brooks is highly regarded for his political analysis, cultural commentary and writings, both as an op-ed columnist for The New York Times and a celebrated author. He can be seen on PBS News Hour as an expert commentator and is a frequent contributor to NPR, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Forbes and The Public Interest.

Brooks will address degree recipients at the graduate commencement ceremony at 3 p.m. May 3 in Assembly Hall.

In 2011, DeCoudreaux left her position as a senior executive at Eli Lilly and Co. to become president of Mills College in San Francisco. The following year, the Indianapolis Business Journal named her one of the year's most influential women. She couples her considerable professional accomplishments with a passion for community service, both to Indiana University and her surrounding community.

"I have known Alecia for over 25 years," Robel said. "She is a brilliant and highly pragmatic counselor, committed to leadership by example and to deep values of community service. This is richly deserved."

DeCoudreaux will speak at the undergraduate commencement ceremonies, which begin at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. May 4 in Assembly Hall. Former Indiana State Sen. Vi Simpson also will receive an honorary doctoral degree. Simpson served in the Indiana Senate for 28 years.

David Brooks

Political observers at IU have described Brooks as a "vocal advocate of moderate views." He upholds the conservative platforms of political philosophers such as Edmund Burke and Alexander Hamilton, believing in a government built on virtuous principles and in logical and cautious action regarding government involvement. He also sides with the "opposition" when appropriate.

Brooks is the author of three books regarding the complexities of the human condition: "Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There"; "On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense"; and, most recently, "The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement." His latest book has gained critical acclaim and is highly regarded as a paradigm for understanding the foundations of true happiness and honest success.

Brooks earned a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Chicago in 1983 and has taught courses in philosophical humility at Yale University and public policy at Duke University. He has received honorary degrees from Williams College, New York University, Brandeis University and Occidental College. Brooks, whose son is currently enrolled at IU, spoke in Bloomington in 2011 as part of the School of Journalism speaker series.

Alecia DeCoudreaux


Alecia DeCoudreaux

Print-Quality Photo

DeCoudreaux is known for taking great pride in building strong bonds and relationships in the communities where she has lived and worked. She has held numerous honorary and leadership roles at IU Bloomington, including honorary director of the IU Foundation from 1998 to 2007. In 1998, she was inducted into the Academy of Law Alumni Fellows, the highest honor Maurer bestows upon alumni.

At Eli Lilly and Co., where she was highly regarded, she became director of community relations in 1990 and advanced through various administrative positions until being named vice president and general counsel for Lilly USA in 2005. She was considered a "tireless consensus builder" and a transformative and invaluable part of the Lilly leadership team.

The 13th president of Mills College, she is the institution's first African-American female president. DeCoudreaux earned her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College in 1976 and her law degree from the IU Maurer School of Law in 1978.

Additional commencement information

Doors for the May 3 graduate commencement ceremony will open at 1 p.m. The procession of graduates will begin at 1:45 p.m.

At the morning undergraduate commencement ceremony May 4, doors will open at 8 a.m., and the procession of graduates will begin at 8:45 a.m. Doors for the afternoon ceremony will open at 1 p.m., and the procession will begin at 1:45 p.m.

There are no reserved seats at commencement ceremonies, but those who use wheelchairs and need accessible seating and parking should call the Office of University Ceremonies at 812-855-3762. Individuals with limited mobility who do not use wheelchairs do not need to make prior arrangements for seating and parking.

Complete information about commencement ceremonies on IU campuses is available on the Office of University Ceremonies website.

Former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton, director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University, will be the keynote speaker for the May 4 Commencement ceremony for the IU Maurer School of Law.