Commencement set for December 19 at 2 p.m.

Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, Ph.D., Morehead Alumni Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, will speak at December Commencement on Dec. 19 at 2 p.m. in the Dean E. Smith Center.

Chancellor Holden Thorp will preside over the ceremony, which includes graduates from August and December.

To date, 2,330 students have applied to graduate at the December ceremony. Administrators anticipate awarding 1,071 bachelor’s, 894 master’s, 352 doctoral and 13 professional degrees. The latter are from the schools of dentistry, law, medicine, nursing and pharmacy.

Parking for guests and media will be available in the Bowles lot across from the front of the Smith Center and the Manning lot down the hill toward Manning Drive.

Thorp chose Sayre-McCord in consultation with the University’s Commencement Speaker Selection Committee, made up of an equal number of faculty and students. His selection continues Carolina’s tradition of faculty speakers at December commencement.

A member of the philosophy faculty since 1985, Sayre-McCord has chaired the department for 10 years. He is the founding co-director of UNC’s philosophy, politics and economics program and a member of the advisory board of the Parr Center, which takes on a broad range of ethical issues.

He specializes in moral theory and metaethics (which explores the nature and status of moral thought). His articles in scholarly journals have examined criminal justice and legal reparations, the relevance of ignorance to the demands of morality, the justification of moral beliefs and the reasons people have to be moral. He edited the books “Essays on Moral Realism” (Cornell University Press, 1988) and “Hume: Moral Philosophy” (Hackett, 2006).

Sayre-McCord twice won UNC’s Tanner Award for Teaching Excellence, in 1987 and 2005. He has held several distinguished term professorships – including the prestigious Bowman and Gordon Gray – and received numerous fellowships. Sayre-McCord regularly lectures at universities and conferences around the world.

His research focuses on the nature of normative concepts, evolution and morality and Adam Smith’s theory of moral sentiments; he lectured on the latter last year at Oxford University and the Australian National University.

At the ceremony, graduates and participants in the academic processional will enter to “Procession of the Nobles” by Nikolay Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov and Richard Strauss’ “Konigsmarsch,” played by the 50-member UNC Ceremonial Band. Faculty Marshal Valerie Ashby, the Gordon and Bowman Gray Distinguished Term Professor in the Department of Chemistry, will lead the processional.