Christian Howard, Ghianda Becerril, and Staff
Managing Editor, Staff Writers
Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, the recently retired commander of the U.S. Pacific fleet, will be the keynote commencement speaker for the class of 2012’s graduation ceremony on May 13.
Walsh was reared in Dallas, graduated from Jesuit College Preparatory School and then graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1977. He received his Ph.D. from Tufts University.
Mark Kubisch, a senior and president of student government, said that the admiral’s life experience made him an excellent keynote speaker for the graduating class.
“The students have been excited because of the speaker’s military background,” said Kubisch. “His life’s experiences are very similar to the core UD represents.”
Before he retired last Dec. 20 at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, Walsh had been the commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, since Sept. 25, 2009. He was responsible for the world’s largest fleet command, encompassing 100 million square miles and approximately 180 ships, nearly 2,000 aircraft and 125,000 sailors, Marines and civilians.
Walsh’s naval career was expansive, and it carried him from the early years of operational flying with a carrier-based attack squadron to the highly visible “Blue Angels” flight demonstration team to combat operations during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As part of his extensive sea duties and responsibilities, he commanded Carrier Air Wing 1 aboard the carrier John F. Kennedy and Carrier Group 7 aboard the carrier John C. Stennis.
He also commanded U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet, while commanding the Combined Maritime Forces conducting Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom as well as maritime security operations. Before his assignment to the U.S. Pacific Fleet, he served as the 35th vice chief of Naval Operations.
Walsh has been a special assistant to the director of the Office of Management and Budget as a White House Fellow. He also chaired the department of Leadership, Ethics and Law at the U.S. Naval Academy, served as the executive assistant to the chief of Naval Personnel, and reported to the Joint Staff for his first flag assignment as the Deputy Director for Strategy and Policy. He also served concurrently as the director of the Navy Quadrennial Defense Review and the Navy Programming Division.
In his announcement about the selection of Walsh, Kubisch said, “We’re grateful to the board of trustees for selecting Walsh. We feel that Walsh represents the excellence to which UD aspires both through his intellectual pursuits and his work ethic.”
Along with choosing the keynote speaker, the senior class has selected icons of the dorms’ namesake saints as their senior class gift.
“We had noticed that Madonna had a Marian icon, and we thought it would be nice to do the same for the rest of the dorms,” said Kevin Burns, a member of the Graduation Committee. “The Senior Committee was unanimously in favor of the idea.”
Burns added that each dorm will receive an icon of its namesake, excepting the New Residence Hall, which will have an icon of Christ, and O’Connell, which will have a Marian icon.
“Optimistically,” Burns said, “I’d like to have the icons up before graduation.”