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By Sam Alcorn
LEWISBURG, Pa. – Thousands of family and friends will join Bucknell University's Class of 2009 on the Academic Quadrangle to celebrate the University's 159th commencement.
Scheduled for 10 a.m. Sunday, May 17, the tradition-laced ceremony will include the awarding of about 900 undergraduate degrees and 40 graduate degrees. Of the undergraduate students, about 760 will be conferred degrees in the arts and sciences, while another 140 will receive engineering degrees.
Degree recipients represent 38 states and the District of Columbia and 15 countries.
Live web broadcast
This, too, will be the first year in which the graduation ceremony will be broadcast live on the Internet. The commencement video link will open for Internet connections at about 9:30 a.m.
Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor, will serve as this year’s commencement speaker. Wiesel plans to encourage students to use their degree "to help the world around them," he told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
"This year, especially, because there is so much turbulence . . . I think we need a compass, and the only compass I know of is a moral compass," he said.
President Brian C. Mitchell will present three honorary degrees during the morning ceremony. || Commencement schedule and information
Honorary degree recipients
Wiesel, former Bucknell President and Professor Emeritus Gary Sojka and alumnus Lauren Breakiron, Class of '52, will each receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters.
In announcing the honorary degree recipients, Mitchell said that Breakiron had been a “significant benefactor of the University and environmental philanthropist who has served as a member of the Board of Trustees.”
While Sojka served as the University’s 13th president, Mitchell said that “Bucknell’s endowment fund nearly tripled, nine buildings were constructed and the comprehensive campaign raised more than $90 million, which exceeded the campaign goal by more than 50 percent.”
50 books published
Wiesel, who has published more than 50 books, gained public recognition soon after his book, Night, was published in 1960.
“It is a poignant memoir of his experiences as a prisoner of Nazi concentration camps,” said Mitchell. “To this day, Elie Wiesel believes that, to those who were not there, words will never be able to convey the depth of such terrible atrocities. Indeed, words are far from Mr. Wiesel’s only form of advocacy. An educator, he is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University. An activist, he works ceaselessly for human rights and justice across the globe.”
Senior Stephanie Rink of Rochester, Mich., was selected to deliver the response by the Class of 2009.
Joining 48,000 living alumni
The class 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 more than 48,000 living alumni.
Bucknell graduated its first students in 1851, when it awarded seven undergraduate degrees at what today is known as Taylor Hall. Commencement has been held on the Academic Quadrangle since 1970.
Other graduation weekend event highlights:
Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, is the speaker for the Inter-Religious Baccalaureate Service on Saturday, May 16, at 7:30 p.m. in Rooke Chapel. Saperstein, who currently co-chairs the Coalition to Preserve Religious Liberty, delivered the invocation at the Democratic National Convention's final session on Aug. 28, 2008, before Sen. Barack Obama accepted the party's nomination for president. A social-justice advocate, he sits on President Obama's Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and has been ranked No. 1 on "America's 50 hottest rabbis list" by Newsweek.
Prior to the entry of students and faculty on the Academic Quad, guests will be entertained by music, including the second annual performance of “Bucknell Fantasy,” a musical work by Jackson Hill, professor of music at Bucknell, that weaves together a sound tapestry from the University's diverse musical heritage, ranging from "'Ray Bucknell" to the school's Alma Mater. William Kenny, professor of music, will conduct the Penn Central Wind Band performance starting at 9:15 a.m.
Six Bucknell seniors will be among the 13 Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets from five area colleges and universities who are being commissioned as U.S. Army second lieutenants at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 16, during a commissioning ceremony at Bucknell Hall. Bucknell, which has had an Army ROTC unit on campus since 1951, has commissioned 1,711 officers.
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