Posted: May 19, 2009
It will be an "all-green" event when Mount Holyoke College celebrates its 172nd commencement and confers 600 degrees on Sunday, May 24. The College will host the president of the Emerald Isle as its commencement speaker, the class of 2009 color is green, and the MHC community has committed itself to an ecofriendly, green weekend.
Mary McAleese, the eighth president of Ireland, will deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree. Honorary degrees will also be presented to Princess Loulwa al-Faisal al Saud, founder of Effat University, the first private university for women in Saudi Arabia, and Clare Waterman '89, chief of the Laboratory of Cell and Tissue Morphodynamics at the National Institute of Health's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Caitlin M. Healey '09 of Manchester, New Hampshire, has been chosen to give the senior address.
Bachelor degrees will be awarded to 572 seniors, including 36 Frances Perkins Scholars; one master's degree, three postbaccalaureate certificates, and 24 certificates for international students will also be awarded. Those receiving diplomas include two truly senior seniors from the Frances Perkins program: 82-year-old Luora Webb of Springfield, Massachusetts, and 71-year-old Joyce Holt of Reading, Massachusetts. Commencement ceremonies will begin at 10:30 am in Gettell Amphitheater. The commencement procession will begin at 10 am. In the event of rain, the ceremony will be held in Kendall Field House.
In addition to its ongoing efforts to reduce its impact on the environment, the College has launched various initiatives this year in its Green Commencement program. Among other things, the use of printed materials has been substantially reduced; seniors have raised enough funds to purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for the entire commencement weekend; and compostable bioware will be used at selected events. The Green Commencement Web site even features a carbon calculator for campus visitors to estimate how much carbon dioxide they have emitted traveling to campus.
Two of the College's most cherished and time-honored commencement traditions will take place Saturday, May 23. The alumnae parade and laurel chain ceremony will begin at Woolley Circle at 9 am, when members of the class of 2009--dressed in white and carrying a garland chain--will be led by alumnae in a procession to the grave of Mount Holyoke's founder, Mary Lyon. There they will join MHC president Joanne V. Creighton and Alumnae Association president Mary Graham Davis '65 to place the garland at the gravesite.
The second tradition is the canoe sing, which began in 1911. It will follow a 9 pm Baccalaureate service in Abbey Chapel and will begin at 10:30 pm on Lower Lake, where 12 canoes, illuminated by lanterns, will carry selected seniors to Upper Lake while they and classmates along the banks sing songs in celebration of commencement.
President McAleese will speak at the College as part of a visit to western Massachusetts organized with the support of Congressman Richard Neal, a leading Bay State political figure and trustee of Mount Holyoke.
This year also marks the first time Mount Holyoke will broadcast its commencement via the Web. Live streaming of the event will begin shortly before the commencement procession steps off at 10 am. Web viewers will need Adobe Flash Player version 9 or higher and a high-speed Internet connection to watch the event on their computers.
Commencement and College Ceremonies - Office of the President