May 8 , 2006
Newest class of Emory grads ready to shine
BY michael terrazas
Once again the dew will come off the grass of Emory’s Quadrangle to the sounds of bagpipes, cheers and applause next Monday, May 15, as the University will hold its 161st Commencement exercises, beginning at 8 a.m.
Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, will deliver this year’s keynote address and also will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters. Edelman will be joined on the stage by fellow honorary degree recipients Stephen Bright, president of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, and Dietrich von Bothmer, distinguished research curator at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Two days earlier at Oxford College, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology Marshall Duke will deliver the Commencement address for Oxford graduates, whose ceremony begins on 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 13. It will be the first Oxford graduation ceremony for Dean Steve Bowen, who arrived last fall.
“Many Oxford students tell me how at home they feel here and how they regret having to leave after two years,” Bowen said. “The Commencement ceremony is a way of celebrating both their accomplishments at Oxford and the exciting opportunities that await them on the Atlanta campus.”
But the diploma ceremonies (of which there will be many, following the main Commencement ceremony, at all University schools) are just part of the full weekends planned at both the Oxford and Atlanta campuses. Oxford Weekend and Emory Weekend both coincide with Commencement, and both include a full range of scheduled activities, with Oxford Weekend running May 12–14 and Emory Weekend May 11–15.
University commencement programs tend to reflect the preferences of the institution’s leadership, and that has indeed been the case at Emory in recent years. According to Vice President and Deputy to the President Gary Hauk, who for many years was central in planning Emory’s Commencement, the University “experimented” in recent ceremonies with the order of events and with the number of speakers. For a couple ceremonies, each honorary degree recipient spoke.
“There was a sense that this slowed down the ceremony and prolonged it, as well as distracted from the main keynote address,” Hauk said.
President Jim Wagner (who will preside over his third Emory Commencement next week) has continued a tradition began by former President Bill Chace in delivering remarks of his own at Commencement, Hauk said, as well as added one or two other personal tweaks. New Director of Special Events and Convocations Michael Kloss also has lent expertise, and there is a sense now—not only for the Commencement ceremony but also with the establishment of the concurrent Emory and Oxford weekends—that the University has found a tradition that fits for this most special weekend for graduates.
“We envision that this structure will be it for a while,” Hauk said.
Comprehensive websites have been created for Commencement, Emory Weekend and Oxford Weekend, listing events, speakers, dates & locations, inclement weather plans, and other information. The main Commencement website is www.emory.edu/COMMENCEMENT/, which features links to the Emory and Oxford weekend sites.