GU Announces Keynote Speaker & Schedule For 2024 Commencement

John Inazu

Greenville University announces its commencement speaker for the class of 2024 commencement ceremonies, which will be held May 9 – 11. The theme: “Equipped to influence. Empowered to lead. Inspired to serve” will envelop the scheduled weekend ceremonies.

The keynote speaker selected for the 2024 commencement ceremony is John Inazu, the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. His teaching and scholarship focus on the First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion and related legal and political theory questions.

According to Greenville University President Suzanne Davis, “In today’s climate of polarization and individuals protecting their own ideas, Dr. Inazu shows us another way – one of empathy, listening, and understanding. We need more of that in these times. He presents in a compelling way how to be uniquely Christian in a divisive world. It’s that life of Christ-like character we long to instill in our students and we will challenge our graduates to at these commencement ceremonies.”

Davis became acquainted with Inazu when Shirley Hoogstra, the President of the Christian College Coalition introduced her to him, and then asked her to co-present with him at the 2024 Council for Christian Colleges and Universities President’s Conference in January in Washington, D.C. Davis interviewed Inazu about his latest book, “Learning to Disagree: The Surprising Path to Navigating Differences with Empathy and Respect,” released April 2 by Zondervan Publishing. In “Learning to Disagree,” Inazu shares memorable stories and draws on the practices that legal training imparts – seeing the complexity in every issue and inhabiting the mindset of an opposing point of view – helps us handle daily encounters and lifelong relationships with those who see life very differently than we do.

Inazu is also the author of “Liberty’s Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly” (Yale University Press, 2012) and “Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Difference” (University of Chicago Press, 2016) and co-editor (with Tim Keller) of “Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference” (Thomas Nelson, 2020).

He founded The Carver Project, the Legal Vocation Fellowship, and is a Senior Fellow at Interfaith America, where he co-directs the Newbigin Fellows and Evangelicals in a Diverse Democracy. Inazu serves on the boards of The Carver Project, the John Burroughs School, and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, the advisory boards of the Bech-Loughlin First Amendment Center at the University of Texas School of Law and the Honors College at the University of Tulsa and is a Senior Fellow at the Trinity Forum.

Inazu holds a B.S.E. and J.D. from Duke University and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He clerked for Judge Roger L. Wollman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He served four years as an associate general counsel with the Department of the Air Force at the Pentagon. His weekly newsletter, *Some Assembly Required, can be found at

The master schedule for Greenville University’s Commencement Weekend is as follows:

Thursday, May 9, 2024

7:00 PM – SENIOR MUGGING | Front steps of the Ruby E. Dare Library

Friday, May 10, 2024

5:00 PM – GREENVILLE UNIVERSITY CHOIR CONCERT | Wilson Recital Hall – Whitlock Music Center

6:00 PM – CLASS OF 2024 PHOTO | Front steps of the Ruby E. Dare Library

6:30 PM – IVY CUTTING (Immediately follows class photo) | Hogue Lawn

For traditional students, this silent ceremony symbolizes the end of their university life together. Graduating students, please wear your cap and gown.

7:00 PM – BACCALAUREATE CEREMONY | Wilson Recital Hall – Whitlock Music Center Baccalaureate is a farewell address in the form of a sermon delivered to the graduating class. All graduating undergraduate and graduate students and their families are welcome.

8:00 PM – GRADUATE DESSERT RECEPTION | Luzader Patio – Whitlock Music Center

Saturday, May 11, 2024

7:30 AM – OPEN SEATING BEGINS | Hogue Lawn

8:00 AM – STUDENT LINE-UP | Hogue Lawn


This event is for all graduating students and their guests.

If inclement weather forces commencement events indoors, the rain plan is on the University website at

Additional details for Greenville University’s 2024 commencement weekend are listed on the University’s website at

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