"The Incomparable Hildegarde" trained as a concert pianist in Marquette's College of Music in the 1920s. It was her voice, though, that made her name. Hildegarde was the toast of her generation, delighting audiences the world over with song and fashion style. She also held warm friendships with the likes of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and Rogers and Hammerstein. Eleanor Roosevelt once called her the "First Lady of the Supper Clubs."
U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy delivered the commencement address in 1964. He asked the graduates before him whether they would be satisfied to curse the darkness or help by lighting a candle for the future.
When General Douglas MacArthur came to Marquette to receive an honorary degree in 1951, many Milwaukeeans called it the greatest day in the history of the city. Despite all the fanfare, MacArthur was aloof and gave only a brief 54-word speech praising university work.
Ralph Metcalfe, Arts '36, was a silver and gold medalist at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. At the height of his track career, Metcalfe was called "the world's fastest human", losing to rival Jesse Owens at the '36 games by a mere 1/10th of a second. He'd beat Owens on several other occasions. After his retirement from professional sports, he went on to a successful career in Illinois politics, which included serving in the U.S. Congress from 1971-78.
When she was told that she would receive Marquette's Discovery Award Medal in 1981, she thought it was a mistake. "I am too small to discover anything," she said. "But then I thought this meant the discovery of the poor, the discovery of the poorest of the poor, of the unwanted and the unloved, the discovery of the rejected. That this was the discovery to make us loving and to come to know the poor in that it is he, Jesus, we are touching. That is the discovery.
Actor and social activist Martin Sheen gave the keynote speech at the John P. Raynor, S.J., Library Dedication Ceremony in September 2003. He also received an honorary doctor of letters degree in recognition of his personal commitment to human justice issues and his association with the Catholic Worker movement.
Saturday Night Live alum Chris Farley was a Marquette alum (Sp '86), and kept his fellow students in stiches with his unique comedic style. In addition to his SNL success, he went on make such hit movies as Tommy Boy, Wayne's World and Black Sheep.
The Most Rev. Desmond Mpilo Tutu, Anglican archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa and a 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner known for his work in ending apartheid, received Marquette University's highest award, the Père Marquette Discovery Award on Feb. 12, 2003, in Gesu Church. Ultimately," Tutu said in his address, "it is the power of the cross that overcomes evil and death. It is the power of love that overcomes hate. Unless we take up our cross to follow our Master, we cannot be his disciples."
Lech Walesa, Nobel laureate, labor leader and former president of Poland, received an honorary doctorate of laws degree from Marquette University in connection with its 2004 Mission Week celebration.
First lady Barbara Bush, an advocate for literacy and family values, delivered the 1992 Commencement address. The University conferred a doctor of laws degree upon her at the ceremony.
The Apollo 11 crew of Neil Armstrong (left), Michael Collins (center) and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin (right) received the Père Marquette Discovery Medal in November 1969. They arrived on campus to cheering students and others protesting the nation's investment in the space program.