Dr. B. Cameron Webb, a renowned doctor and lawyer, and School of Nursing Dean Dorrie Fontaine were announced Wednesday as the speakers for the University’s 190th Final Exercises.
Final Exercises will take place May 18 and 19, with Webb addressing students of the College of Arts and Sciences on May 18 on the Lawn and Fontaine addressing students of the other 10 schools and the Data Science Institute the following day, also on the Lawn.
In an email to the Cavalier Daily, Wesley Hester, director of media relations and deputy spokesperson for the University, explained that an advisory panel called the Public Occasions Committee, comprised of students and faculty, chooses potential speakers. The Committee puts together two separate lists of speaker candidates, one list for May 18 and one for May 19. The lists are then sent to President Ryan, who may choose someone from the list or someone else entirely. Hester said that both Webb and Fontaine were on the lists sent to the President.
Galen Green, a fourth-year Commerce student and president of the Fourth Year Trustees, was a member of the Public Occasions Committee. As the President of Trustees, she also plays a role in selecting valedictory speakers, who have not yet been announced.
Green said that the committee was evenly split between faculty and student leaders and that the students on the committee comprised mostly elected leaders of student government. The committee would meet and discuss different names for each day.
“Dr. Webb is very young but so incredibly accomplished for his age,” Green said. “We thought he would have some great insight for the fourth-year class.”
Webb is an alumnus of the University who graduated with his B.A. in 2005 before attending Loyola University Chicago School of Law and Wake Forest School of Medicine, where he received his J.D. and M.D. respectively.
His background in both medicine and law brought him to the White House where he worked on the White House Health Care Team and served a leading role on a White House Drug Pricing Task Force. In 2014, he worked on President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” program, where he helped empower young boys of color as part of a larger effort to decrease the opportunity gaps men of color face.
In 2016, he was selected for the White House Fellowship Program — a prestigious program for leadership and public service.
Currently, Webb serves as an assistant professor at the University’s School of Medicine, director of health policy and equity in the department of Public Health Sciences and as a hospitalist in the Department of Medicine.
Fontaine also works at the University, but she is retiring this year.
“She has been a huge contributor to this community and to the nursing community as a whole,” Green said.
Fontaine has worked at the University since 2008. She is the current Sadie Heath Cabaniss Professor of Nursing and Dean of the School of Nursing.
Fontaine had previously worked in “academic and clinical leadership” at the University of Maryland at Baltimore, Georgetown University and the University of California, San Francisco before working as a trauma nurse for 40 years and serving as president of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.
After coming to the University, Fontaine founded the Compassionate Care Initiative, which focuses on teaching health workers resilience and compassion to reduce patients’ pain and distress.
Fontaine has also implemented a variety of new courses in the Nursing School to provide students with a wider range of opportunities. She has expanded the curriculum to include classes on leadership and mindfulness, created a new curriculum called “Wisdom in Nursing” that helps students gain real-world experience and started a palliative care concentration for graduate nursing students.
Green is excited for the commencement addresses and is looking forwards to the messages Webb and Fontaine will relay to the fourth-year class. “I’m hoping that they speak about what the fourth years have been through as a class.” Green said. “I hope they get to leave the speech feeling uplifted and ready to take on the world.”
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