A guide to Drake University’s 156th commencement ceremonies on May 18–19

Drake University will award 1,121 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees at its 2024 commencement ceremonies. The undergraduate ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 19, and the graduate ceremony will follow at 2 p.m. Both ceremonies will take place in the Knapp Center (2601 Forest Avenue, Des Moines, IA)and be presided over by Drake University President Marty Martin.

The undergraduate ceremony will include remarks from alumna and past National Alumni Board chair Nicole (Nikki) Syverson, BAJMC’03, who will welcome Drake’s most recent graduates into a community of more than 75,000 Bulldogs around the world.

Commencement Speakers

Ruwayda Egal, Oreon E. Scott award recipient and undergraduate ceremony speaker

Ruwayda Egal, Oreon E. Scott winner

Each year at commencement, Drake presents the Oreon E. Scott Award to an undergraduate student leader who embodies scholarship, leadership, service, and involvement. This year’s honoree is Ruwayda Egal, who served as the 2023–2024 undergraduate student body president. Egal, who is graduating with a double major in Law, Politics and Society, and Spanish, created a legacy hallmarked by her leadership and advocacy during her time at Drake. Before serving as student body president, she served as Unity Roundtable President of the Drake Multicultural Governing Body and as Equity and Inclusion Senator for the Drake University Student Senate. In both roles, she worked to engage students across campus and ensure an equitable and inclusive environment.

Grace Berg, graduate ceremony speaker

Grace Berg, graduate speaker

Grace Berg, Drake Women’s Basketball player, will deliver the graduate ceremony commencement address. Along with her impressive athletic record, Berg excelled academically. A leader on and off the court, Berg has had an impactful college career during her time at Drake. Berg earned her Master of Arts in Brand Communication this year after receiving her bachelor’s in marketing from Drake in 2022. Berg started all 35 games this year in her final season as a Bulldog. She earned two MVC Player of the Week awards and was selected as a First Team All-MVC performer. The Indianola native wrapped up her college basketball career by breaking into the top 10 on Drake’s all-time scoring list with more than 1,800 points.

Honorary Degree Recipient

Drake University will award an honorary degree during its undergraduate ceremony to Suzie Glazer Burt, a longtime Drake supporter and local philanthropist.

Suzie Glazer Burt, honorary degree recipient

Suzie has been a champion of Drake along with her late husband, Greg, for decades. She comes from a long family legacy of service to Drake University and the broader community. Her grandfather, Ellis I. Levitt, served on Drake University’s Board of Trustees and founded the first Boys Club in Iowa (later renamed the Boys & Girls Club); her father, Edward Glazer, was chair of the Drake Board of Trustees; and her mother, Maddie Levitt, also served on the Drake Board of Trustees and raised more than $320 million for the University.

Suzie is the third generation in her family to serve as both a member of the Drake University Board of Trustees and as a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs Board of Trustees. She is also the third in her family to receive a Doctor of Humane Letters from Drake University.

In 2019, Drake University and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa opened the Gregory & Suzie Glazer Burt Club located on Drake University’s campus. The Club is a direct result of Suzie and her husband Greg’s vision, advocacy, and charitable giving. The Burt Club is just the second of its kind on a private university campus in the United States and provides more than 200 youth in our community with a safe, supportive place to be after school and during the summer.

Suzie currently serves as the co-chair of Drake University’s comprehensive campaign, The Ones: Drake’s Campaign for the Brave and Bold. The campaign is the largest fundraising campaign in the University’s history and has raised more than $216 million. Suzie has not only championed the campaign, but she has also generously gifted more than $12.5 million in support of its mission to transform lives and strengthen communities.

In addition to Suzie’s ongoing leadership and involvement on campus, she has generously supported Drake Athletics, contributing $5 million to the Drake Women’s Basketball program—the largest non-capital donation ever for a women’s basketball program. In alignment with her efforts to empower and strengthen women, and close the gender gap in athletics, her generosity has had a transformational effect on the Drake women’s basketball program and its student-athletes.

Commencement Schedule, Parking, and Livestream

Saturday, May 18

  • 3 p.m.: The College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Doctoral Hooding and Commencement Ceremony
  • 7 p.m.: The Law School Commencement

Sunday, May 19

  • 10 a.m.: The 156th Commencement Ceremony for Undergraduate Degree Recipients
  • 2 p.m.: The 156th Commencement Ceremony for Graduate and Doctoral Degree Recipients

Drake will stream all four ceremonies at live.drake.edu. Free parking is available in campus lots during the ceremony. For more details, including the full commencement program, visit the Registrar’s website.