Thursday, April 23, 2015


Media Contacts
Rachel Mann
Howard University
(202) 238-2631
Charlene Stephens
Xerox Corporation

Xerox Chairman & CEO Ursula M. Burns to Deliver Howard University 2015 Commencement Address

Special Recognition also Planned for Honorees in Business, Entertainment, Academia, and Public Service

WASHINGTON (April 23, 2015) – Ursula M. Burns, chairman and chief executive officer of Xerox Corporation, will deliver the 2015 Commencement address to Howard University students, faculty, staff, and guests on Saturday, May 9, at 10 a.m., on the upper quadrangle of the University’s main campus.

The University will also award honorary degrees to award-winning actor and director, Morgan Freeman; President of Spelman College, Beverly Daniel Tatum; and, philanthropists Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown.

“We’re honored to have such an esteemed and influential group of leaders, representing a variety of interests, talents, and backgrounds to present to our 2015 graduating class,” said Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, president of Howard University. “Our students and guests will undoubtedly be moved by these leaders’ personal convictions, perseverance, and what they’ve achieved for the benefit of others. Their stories will help inspire our students to leverage their Howard education for the benefit of the world they’ll set out to change,” added Frederick.

The May 9, 2015 commencement ceremony will be Howard University’s 147th graduation convocation.

About the Honorees:

C. Sylvia Brown

C. Sylvia Brown is an alumna of Howard University. As an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and educator, she has been a driving force in improving the African-American community in the city of Baltimore. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education from Howard University, she continued with her studies, earning a Master of Science degree in health education from Indiana University. She was a teacher and developed an interest in community relations. Along with her husb and, Eddie, she established the Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Family Foundation. She and her family have contributed to many causes, including the establishment of the Brown Community Health Scholarship at the Bloomberg School to support doctoral research to combat health disparities in Baltimore.

In 2002, Brown and her family created the Turning the Corner Achievement Program, an initiative that supports African-American middle school students in Baltimore. 

Eddie C. Brown

Eddie C. Brown is founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Maryland’s Brown Capital Management, one of the country’s oldest African-American-owned investment management firms. Brown attended Howard University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. He went on to earn a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering from New York University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Indiana University School of Business. In 1994, he and his wife Sylvia established the Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Family Foundation to support charitable organizations focused on health, the arts and education in the African-American community. In 2002, the family created the Turning the Corner Achievement Program, an educational initiative supporting African-American middle school students. In 2011, Brown released his autobiography, Beating the Odds:  Eddie Brown’s Investing and Life Strategies.

Brown’s career highlights include serving as vice president and portfolio manager at T. Rowe Price, before starting his own firm in 1983.  In 1998, the U. S. secretary of labor appointed him to the Employment Retirement Income Security Act Advisory Council. Brown joined the Maryland Economic Development Commission a year later.  He also serves as a board member to the Open Society Institute, in Baltimore. Eddie and his wife joined The Wilson Center National Cabinet as founding members in March 2012. As a member of the Cabinet, Eddie serves on the Investment Committee. 

Ursula M. Burns

Ursula M. Burns, chairman and chief executive officer of Xerox Corporation and the first African-American woman to head a Fortune 500 company, will be the keynote speaker for the 2015 commencement ceremony. Ms. Burns is also the first female chief executive to replace another female chief executive at a Fortune 500 company. Starting in 1980, as an intern at Xerox, she rose up the ranks to become the CEO of the company in 2009. In 2010, she became chairwoman. She also serves as a board director of Exxon Mobil, American Express and the Ford Foundation. Her counsel extends to educational and non-profit organizations such as FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), National Academy Foundation, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2014, she was ranked No. 22 on Forbes’ list of the world’s 100 most powerful women.  She earned a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU) and a Master of Science in mechanical engineering from Columbia University. .

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman is an award-winning entertainer with more than 60 awards for his work in film, including an Oscar and two Golden Globes. He has become one of the most respected people in American cinema. Currently, his company Revelations Entertainment is a producer of the upcoming film “Five Flights Up” as well as the Science Channels Emmy nominated “Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman.” Freeman ranks second among worldwide top-grossing actors of all time, with his films having earned more than $4 billion in cumulative ticket sales. The Memphis, Tennessee, native began his acting career as a series regular on PBS’s “The Electric Company” in 1971. He is now known for his distinctive voice as well as his roles in classic films such as “The Shawshank Redemption,”  “Driving Miss Daisy” and “Million Dollar Baby.” He has been involved in a number of major charitable endeavors, including efforts to organize relief funds for Hurricane Katrina victims in the Gulf Coast region and in Grenada, as well as the founding of the Rock River Foundation, which helps fund educational programs. 

Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D.

Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., has served as president of Spelman College since 2002. She is a 2013 recipient of the Carnegie Academic Leadership Award. Her tenure as president has been marked by a period of great innovation and growth. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and, in 2005, Tatum was awarded the Brock International Prize in Education for her leadership in the field of psychology. She is the author of “Can We Talk About Race? And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation” and “’Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?’ and Other Conversations about Race.” During the course of her career, she has served as a faculty member at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Westfield State University, and Mount Holyoke College. Prior to her appointment at Spelman, she served as dean and acting president at Mount Holyoke College. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Wesleyan University, a Master of Arts degree in religious studies from Hartford Seminary and an M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan. 

For more information, visit:

The 2015 Howard University Commencement will be streamed live on and broadcast on Howard’s public television station WHUT.

WHUT Broadcast Details:
Saturday, May 9
9:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m., Pre-show LIVE
10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Howard University 2015 Commencement

Sunday, May 10 (re-broadcast)
8 a.m., Howard University 2015 Commencement Pre-Show (pre-recorded)
8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m., Howard University 2015 Commencement (pre-recorded)

Note to media:
For credentials, media should RSVP by visiting
Note: Press packets, including photography, audio and video clips will be available to media upon request, following the event.

About Howard University:

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. Since 1998, the University has produced two Rhodes Scholars, two Truman Scholars, a Marshall Scholar, 30 Fulbright Scholars and 11 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, call 202-238-2330, or visit the University's Web site at