Celebrating Commencement 2011

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Bard College at Simon’s Rock will honor graduating students at the College’s 42nd Commencement, Saturday, May 14. Commencement is a time to celebrate the achievements of graduating students as they enter the next phase of their lives.

While campus is usually marked by a decidedly informal tone (students call professors by their first names) Commencement is a largely customary event marked by ceremony and pageantry. In keeping with tradition, exercises begin with a processional of robed faculty and graduates led by bagpiper and longtime friend of the College, Brian Hopewell ’73.

Several aspects of the ceremony are unique to Simon’s Rock. Due to the size of the College, it takes about 30 minutes for the names of graduates to be read and their degrees conferred. And Simon’s Rock is  unusual among small liberal arts colleges for awarding both bachelor (BA) and associate of arts (AA) degrees.

Commencement marks the transition from student to alumnus for many. But for students graduating with an AA who intend to obtain their BA at the College, Commencement is a milestone that comes in the middle of their time at Simon’s Rock.

For the families of all graduates, Commencement offers formal recognition of the academic and personal achievements students launched when they decided to start college early and forego the more traditional rite of passage of the high school diploma.

Students from both graduating classes are honored by the College in the days before Commencement with a reception for AA graduates and a Candlelight Dinner for BA graduates. One longstanding tradition comes immediately before the Candlelight Dinner: The Provost reads all Senior Theses in advance of graduation and then presents highlights from each Senior Thesis to the assembled members of the BA class and the faculty. Year after year, Provost Marcy and her predecessors have found the theses to display deep commitment, creativity, original research, and thought-provoking insight. At no other College does the senior administrator gain such in-depth knowledge of the learning achieved by every member of a graduating class.

Commencement Schedule:

8:30 a.m.: Continental breakfasts will be served for the BA graduates and their families in the Dance Studio, and for the AA graduates and their families in the Dining Hall.

10:00 a.m.: Students and faculty report to classroom buildings to robe.

11:00 a.m.: Commencement exercises begin with remarks by Emily H. Fisher, chair of the Board of Overseers, and Mary Marcy, provost. Alumnus Ronan Farrow will address the assembled graduates as the featured commencement speaker. AA and BA class representatives will also speak. Academic prizes will be awarded by faculty. Students will present the Dr. John A. Glover Award, the Ruth B. Ide “Good Sport” Award, and the Richard C. Drumm Sr. Award—all honoring members of the College community for whom the graduates have selected. President Leon Botstein will give the traditional Charge to the Graduates before the degrees are conferred.

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