A sense of history and hope will infuse Emory's 169th Commencement ceremony, as civil rights icon and U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) delivers the keynote address during a year that marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The Class of 2014 will convene on the Emory Quadrangle on Monday, May 12, at 8 a.m. to participate in the pageantry of Commencement exercises that reflect centuries-old tradition, presented this year with a modern environmental twist.
For the first time, all undergraduate graduation gowns and some professional doctoral gowns will be fashioned entirely out of recycled plastic bottles, reflecting Emory's role as a national leader in campus sustainability programs.
Gaze across the sea of graduation regalia — an estimated 2,900 "GreenWeaver" gowns — and you'll see the equivalent of 66,700 post-consumer plastic bottles that have been diverted from local landfills, according to Michael Kloss, Emory's chief of protocol and executive director of the Office of University Events.
Scholarship and achievement
A crowd of about 15,000 is expected to attend this year's Commencement ceremony, where degrees will be conferred upon some 4,400 graduates. About half are earning bachelor's degrees from Emory College of Arts and Sciences and half from Emory's graduate and professional schools.
A geographically diverse group representing nearly all 50 states and many nations around the world — about 16 percent are international students — the Class of 2014 is woven with scholars who embody a variety of backgrounds and interests, including decorated service veterans, award-winning student athletes, transfer students, and graduates over the age of 50.
Not only did the Class of 2014 experience snowstorms that shut down the campus twice this year (a rarity in Emory's history), students also witnessed another unusual event: Twice in the past four years (in 2010 and again in 2013) the campus hosted visits from His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, who is a Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory.
The Class of 2014 will also be remembered for its "joyfulness," notes Emory President James Wagner.
Honorary degrees mark service
"This class has been one that expresses a remarkable joy of a sort that comes from having confidence in their abilities, comfort with their own identity and values, and experience in successfully addressing opportunities and issues together in community," Wagner says.
This year's Commencement will also be highlighted by the conferral of three honorary degrees:
- U.S. Rep. John Lewis — Civil rights leader and voter education advocate; to receive an honorary doctor of laws degree
- Ben F. Johnson III, '65C — former chair of the Emory Board of Trustees and trustee emeritus; to receive an honorary doctor of laws degree
- Beverly Daniel Tatum — Ninth president of Spelman College, scholar, teacher, race-relations expert; to receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree
As keynote speaker, Lewis offers a personal perspective shaped by decades of public service and landmark moments in civil rights history.
He will discuss the importance of democratic engagement and the necessity for young people to be involved in the democratic process, using his own life and stories from the front lines of the civil rights movement to illustrate his point.
For more information on Commencement events, including plans for individual school ceremonies, visit www.emory.edu/commencement.
Can't attend the ceremony? Commencement exercises will be streamed live online at http://www.emory.edu/commencement/webcast/
Oxford College Commencement
Barbara Stoll, George W. Brumley, Jr., Professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine and president and CEO of the Emory-Children's Center, will give the keynote address during Commencement exercises at Oxford College on Saturday, May 10.
Stoll, who is also senior vice president and chief academic officer and an associate dean of clinical services at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, joined the Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at Emory's School of Medicine in 1986. She is the first Emory Chair of Pediatrics to be jointly employed by and hold a senior leadership role at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, one of the nation's largest pediatric health care systems.
Oxford Commencement begins at 10 a.m., when a bagpiper leads the graduate procession onto the Oxford College Quadrangle. Recipients of the 2014 Williams Teaching Award and Eady Sophomore Service Award will also be announced during the ceremony. Oxford's Class of 2014 represents about 305 graduates.
A groundbreaking ceremony for Oxford College's new science building will take place immediately afterward at the building's site on the College Quad.
Oxford College's ceremony recognizes students who have completed their sophomore year in preparation for continuing on to Emory's Atlanta campus.