WFU remembers connections to former First Lady Barbara Bush

Former First Lady Barbara Bush speaks at Wake Forest University's 2001 commencement

Wake Forest University has several connections to former First Lady Barbara Bush, who died today at the age of 92.

2001 Commencement


Read Bush’s commencement address, in its entirety, here.

Bush delivered Wake Forest’s Commencement address in 2001 to 1,349 graduates, challenging them to live the University’s motto, Pro Humanitate (In Service to Humanity), long after graduation.

“Thanks to Wake Forest’s wonderful tradition of service, embodied in your school motto, you’ve already been taught the value of service to others,” Bush said. “But now comes the hard part, figuring out how to carry on this tradition for the rest of your life.”

Bush spoke to more than 10,000 friends and family gathered on University Plaza, now named Hearn Plaza, on a rainy Monday morning. She encouraged graduates to make three important choices in life: to believe in something larger than themselves, to remember that life should be fun, and to cherish relationships with friends and family.

She was also awarded an honorary doctorate of humanities during the ceremony.

Additional family connections include:

  • Bush first visited Wake Forest for the 1988 presidential debate in Wait Chapel. Her husband, who was then-Vice President and later became President George H.W. Bush, debated then-Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis.
  • Her son, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush, also debated in Wait Chapel in 2000 before becoming president. Barbara Bush did not attend that debate.
  • Henry Hager, who is married to Barbara Bush’s granddaughter Jenna Bush Hager, is a 2000 graduate of Wake Forest.

Categories: Commencement, Top Stories