U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will deliver the keynote address to graduates during the 125th Baccalaureate Ceremony at 8 a.m., Saturday, May 9, 2015, in O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium on the campus.

Secretary Duncan, the ninth U.S. secretary of education, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2009 following his nomination by President Barack Obama. The secretary sent personal greetings in a video to the NCCU Class of 2015 expressing his excitement over being asked to serve as the ceremony’s keynote speaker. http://bit.ly/NCCU2015.

Secretary Duncan’s tenure in the U.S. Department of Education has been marked by a number of significant accomplishments on behalf of American students and teachers. He helped secure congressional support for President Barack Obama’s education programs, including $100 billion to fund 325,000 teaching jobs through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; increases in Federal Pell Grants; reform efforts, such as Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation; and interventions in low-performing schools.

Secretary Duncan also has worked to strengthen the Federal Pell Grant program, which helps young Americans attend college and receive postsecondary degrees. The funding increase supports President Obama’s goal of rebuilding the nation’s college graduation rate to surpass that of all other countries by 2020.

In addition, the secretary has made strides in ensuring that colleges and universities provide more transparency around graduation, job placement, and student loan default rates. With the income-based repayment program introduced during Secretary Duncan’s tenure, student loan payments are being reduced for college graduates in low-paying jobs, and loans will be forgiven after 10 years for persons in certain public service occupations, such as teachers, police officers and firefighters.

More than 650 undergraduate degrees will be awarded during the May 9 ceremony, according to preliminary estimates from NCCU Registrar’s Office. A separate ceremony for graduate and professional students will take place May 8.

North Carolina Central University prepares students to succeed in the global marketplace. Flagship programs include science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines, nursing, education, law, business and the arts. Founded in 1910 as a liberal arts college for African-Americans, NCCU remains committed to diversity in higher education. Our alumni are among the nation’s most successful scientists, researchers, educators, attorneys, artists and entrepreneurs.  Visit www.nccu.edu.