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Important Messages Log

June 14, 2022

Angel Stadium Commencement Speaker update

Dear Graduates,

As we prepare for the university-wide Commencement on Wednesday at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, we want to share a change to the event lineup. The keynote speaker will now be Yusef Salaam, who is replacing Kal Penn due to an unanticipated professional conflict. We are excited to have Salaam join us for this milestone event to share his inspiration with graduating Anteaters.

Dr. Yusef Salaam headshotAt the age of 15, Salaam was tried and convicted in the “Central Park jogger” case along with four other Black and Latinx young men in 1989. The Exonerated Five spent between seven to 13 years behind bars for crimes they did not commit, until their sentences were overturned in 2002. Since then, they have received a multi-million-dollar settlement from the city of New York for its injustice and have been profiled in award-winning films, including The Central Park Five documentary and most recently the Emmy award-winning Netflix limited series When They See Us.

Salaam is also a New York Times bestselling author, and recently released his memoir, Better, Not Bitter, detailing his journey where in the face of misjustice, he found hope; and he is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama in 2016.

Anteater fun fact: the actor who played Salaam in the Netflix show is UCI student Ethan Herisse.

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday and congratulations, again, on your achievements.


Willie L. Banks Jr., Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs
University of California, Irvine