May 3, 2011

Commencement 2011

166th Commencement marks milestone for graduates and University

Emory celebrates its 166th Commencement exercises on Monday, May 9 and this year, celebrates its 175th anniversary.

The anniversary will give the Class of 2011's ceremony a historical tinge.

"Audience members carefully reading the Commencement program while waiting for the ceremony to begin will notice that while we're observing Emory's 175th year, this is only our 166th Commencement," says Gary Hauk, vice president and deputy to the president.

"It took two years for the first students to show up after Emory College received its charter, and another three to turn them into graduates. The college was closed during the Civil War [the 150th anniversary of which is being noted this year]. Other than that, Emory hasn't skipped a beat!" he notes. 

Also, the 175 logo, which has been used throughout this year, will be on a gonfalon, a type of banner used in the ceremony.

Held on the Quadrangle with more than 15,000 in attendance, the ceremony, lasting about 90 minutes, encompasses pageantry and tradition.

Anticipated to graduate are 3,647 students, according to the University Registrar.

Delivering this year's keynote address is U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who will also receive an honorary doctor of laws degree.

"As our graduating students set forth to shape their own lives and careers, they will be well served by the example of Janet Napolitano, who has used her exceptional intelligence, integrity and humanity in behalf of positive transformation in the world," says President Jim Wagner.

Three others prominent in their respective fields will receive honorary degrees: William R. Beardslee, Martha Nussbaum and George Trakas.

Traditional at the ceremony, the Thomas Jefferson Award and the University Scholar/Teacher Award will be presented. Other faculty awards include the George P. Cuttino Award For Excellence in Mentoring and the University's most prestigious awards for teaching, the Emory Williams Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Top student honors to be presented are the Marion Luther Brittain Award and the McMullan Award.

As the Class of 2011 transitions to the next phase of their lives at the 166th Commencement Exercises, Emory Commencement Weekend May 5-9 kicks off the celebration. See the full schedule of Commencement events.

New this year, families will receive pocket guides with school-specific tips on everything from parking, walking routes and seating configurations. To avoid congestion on the Quad, the Office of University Events has developed a new pedestrian traffic plan, which will direct visitors around graduate seating to keep the area open for the processional march.

Also new this year is the option for Commencement visitors to stay on campus. Residence Life made available a limited number of residence hall rooms for family members and graduates' guests. Stays include wireless access, 24-hour staffed concierge desk, passes for parking, some meals and access to the Woodruff P.E. Center.

"We had no idea this would be so popular," says Michelle Wu of Residence Life and Housing, who is overseeing the option.

As of mid-April, more than 60 rooms had been booked, says Wu.

Commencement 2011 will be webcast live on the Commencement website and available later for archival viewing.

For detailed information for graduates and guests, including inclement weather information for each school's ceremony, visit the Commencement website.

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