May 03, 2011

Scene from the 2010 Commencement.

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By Sam Alcorn

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Thousands of family members and friends will be on hand Sunday, May 22, to cheer on nearly 900 undergraduate and graduate students during Bucknell University's 161st Commencement.

The tradition-filled ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. on the Academic Quadrangle, where the University expects to present 850 undergraduate and 46 graduate degrees. In the event of rain, commencement will be held in the Gerhard Fieldhouse.

Among undergraduates, 700 members of the Class of 2011 will be awarded degrees in the arts and sciences, while another 150 will receive degrees in engineering. The soon-to-be graduates represent 41 states and the District of Columbia and 10 nations.

Streaming video
For those unable to attend in person, a live streaming video of the ceremony — from start to finish — will be presented online. Last year's broadcast had nearly 800 unique viewers. || (Live streaming details)

Erik Weihenmayer, a mountain climber, author, filmmaker and humanitarian, who in 2001 became the only blind person in history to reach the summit of Mount Everest and has since completed his quest to ascend the highest peaks on all seven continents, will present this year's keynote commencement address.

"Erik Weihenmayer serves as a dramatic example of how a belief in one's dreams and a commitment to others can lead to remarkable personal and humanitarian accomplishments," said Bucknell President John Bravman in an announcement about the speaker. "I am sure he will be a great inspiration to the Class of 2011 and to all of us at Bucknell."

Help and inspire
Matt Hotard, president of the Class of 2011, said the class is "thrilled" to have Weihenmayer as the speaker. "His daring achievements as a pioneer speak for themselves, but his work to help and to inspire others truly is an inspiration, and we look forward to his message on a day we will never forget," Hotard said.

Prior to the ceremony, the award-winning Penn Central Wind Band will perform celebratory music on the Academic Quad. Bucknell has sponsored this ensemble as a service to the region for nearly 15 years.

Other graduation weekend event highlights:

  • Five Bucknell graduates will be among the 13 cadets from five area colleges and universities who are being commissioned as U.S. Army second lieutenants at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 21, during a ceremony in the Terrace Room of the Elaine Langone Center. Bucknell has had an Army Reserve Officer Training Corps unit on campus since 1951.
  • The Inter-Religious Baccalaureate Service for graduates and guests will be offered in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 21. This year's speaker is the Rev. Gail Bowman, chaplain, assistant professor of religion and Project Director of VisionQuest at Dillard University in New Orleans. No tickets are required, but seating is first-come, first-served. Doors open at 7 p.m.
  • Also on Saturday, May 21, seniors will line the perimeter of the Academic Quadrangle at 9 p.m. to participate in the Candlelighting Ceremony. This event recreates the ceremony in which the class participated during their first-year orientation. Parents, family and friends are encouraged to attend and will be seated in the center of the Quad. In the event of rain, the ceremony will be held in the Gerhard Fieldhouse.

As the classes preceding them have done, the Class of 2011 will parade in academic cap and gown to the Academic Quad from the Christy Mathewson Memorial Gateway, the same gate through which they passed as first-year students when they were welcomed into the Bucknell community. This passage will mark their transition to alumni. Bucknell has nearly 50,000 living alumni.

The University - when it was known as the University at Lewisburg - graduated its first students in 1851, when it awarded seven undergraduate degrees at what today is known as Taylor Hall, the oldest building on campus. Since 1970, commencement has been held on the Academic Quadrangle bordered by the Bertrand Library, Coleman and Marts halls and the Vaughan Literature Building.

A complete schedule of commencement events, registration and general information, including accommodations and dining, is available at Commencement 2011.

Contact: Division of Communications

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