California’s New Chief Justice Among UC Davis Graduation Speakers

5 Undergraduate Ceremonies Move to Golden 1 Center

Critter Fixer veterinarians Terrence Ferguson and Vernard Hodges examine a dog at their practice in Georgia
Vernard L. Hodges, left, and Terrence Ferguson, stars of the TV show "Critter Fixers: Country Vets," are among the guest speakers at UC Davis' spring commencements. (Courtesy photo)

Correction: The following was updated May 17 to reflect speaker Selu Vargas' current role with Customs and Border Protection.

California’s chief justice, the stars of the TV show Critter Fixers: Country Vets, Sacramento’s mayor and a graduate dedicated to serving humanitarian needs are the guest speakers for the spring commencements of the University of California, Davis.

The season of 12 commencements begins this weekend on the UC Davis campus and includes a new venue for undergraduate ceremonies: the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.

A closeup photo of Justice Patricia Guerrero against a backdrop of law books
Chief Justice Guerrero

Patricia Guerrero, who was sworn in Jan. 2 as California’s first Latina chief justice, will speak to graduates and guests of the School of Law at 11 a.m. Saturday (May 13) at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts on the Davis campus. Guerrero has contributed many hours to pro bono work, including as a member of the advisory board of the Immigration Justice Project. In other professional service, she has chaired a commission on the future of the bar exam, served on an advisory committee on criminal jury instructions and participated in a program that brings judges into California classrooms. Guerrero was elected to the American Law Institute last year. 

Terrence Ferguson and Vernard  L. Hodges, who star — with the animals they treat — in National Geographic’s Critter Fixers: Country Vets, will speak at the School of Veterinary Medicine’s commencement at 3:30 p.m. Friday, May 26, at the Mondavi Center. The TV show, now in its fifth season, centers on the companion animal hospital they operate in Byron, Georgia. Graduates of the Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine, Ferguson and Hodges are ambassadors for diversity in veterinarian medicine.

Closeup of Selu Vargas
Selu Vargas

Selu Vargas, a physician assistant and a 2020 graduate of the Betty Irene School of Nursing, will address the school’s commencement at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 15, at the Mondavi Center. Recipient of the school’s 2020 Excellence in Cultural Inclusiveness Award, Vargus has dedicated her career to meeting humanitarian needs and providing health care for Native Americans. She works with Customs and Border Protection as a supervisor at the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry for unaccompanied immigrant minors and those seeking asylum in El Paso, Texas.

Closeup of Darrell Steinberg
Darrell Steinberg

Darrell Steinberg, mayor of Sacramento since 2016, will speak by way of a recorded video to all five undergraduate ceremonies, Friday through Sunday, June 16-18. A public servant for more than 25 years, including as a member of the state Assembly and Senate, Steinberg has championed efforts to address homelessness and mental health. He earned a law degree from UC Davis in 1984.

Ceremonies will also feature remarks from campus leaders, faculty members and students. The university will recognize thousands of graduates with undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in fields ranging from the biological sciences to the humanities.

Commencement calendar

Following is a complete list of commencement dates, times and locations:

  • May 13 — School of Law, 11 a.m., Mondavi Center
  • May 20 — School of Medicine, 10 a.m., Mondavi Center
  • May 26 — School of Veterinary Medicine, 3:30 p.m.,  Mondavi Center
  • June 14 — School of Education, 4 p.m., Mondavi Center
  • June 15 — Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, 10 a.m., Mondavi Center
  • June 15 — Graduate Studies, 3 p.m., University Credit Union Center
  • June 16 — Undergraduate ceremony, 2 p.m., Golden 1 Center
  • June 17 — Two undergraduate ceremonies, 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Golden 1 Center
  • June 17 — Graduate School of Management, 10 a.m., University Credit Union Center
  • June 18 — Two undergraduate ceremonies, 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Golden 1 Center

Use of Golden 1 Center

Chancellor Gary S. May announced in November that, based on student feedback to a survey and the recommendation from a commencement advisory committee, the undergraduate ceremonies would move to the Golden 1 Center.  

Last June, three undergraduate ceremonies were held in a new and larger format at UC Davis Health Stadium. For health and safety reasons, officials cut the first morning’s ceremony short due to rising temperatures. Adjustments were made to shorten the remaining two ceremonies.

Emily Galindo, who retired as vice chancellor of Student Affairs in 2020, produced a report with recommendations for future commencements, and was retained to provide overall leadership for undergraduate commencements. “Early planning and collaboration among campus departments and Golden 1 Center staff is helping prepare an enjoyable and memorable experience for students and their guests,” she said.

Changes in format

Increasing the number of ceremonies to five has made the number of graduates at each more manageable. Graduating students have been able to request up to six tickets for guests; at the University Credit Union Center, they were allotted up to four.

Rather than graduating by college and major, students could choose which of the five ceremonies to attend. Galindo said eliminating the formal processional for graduates would shorten the ceremonies and allow them to sit with friends. Important to students and guests, the tradition of announcing graduates’ names as they cross the stage has been retained.

More information

Nine cultural and heritage celebrations will be held June 8-18. More information on these events and commencements, including ticket requirements for most ceremonies, is available on the commencement website.

Ceremonies will be shown live on the commencement homepage and on-demand on the UC Davis YouTube page and in our Commencement Archives.

In 2021-22, UC Davis conferred a total of 12,071 degrees: 9,627 bachelor’s, 799 professional, 1,039 master’s and 606 doctoral degrees.

Media Resources

Media Contacts:

  • Julia Ann Easley, News and Media Relations, 530-752-8248, cell 530-219-4545,
  • Karen Nikos-Rose, News and Media Relations, 530-219-5472, (School of Law commencement)

Primary Category

Secondary Categories

Dateline Student Life