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College Celebrates 165th Commencement May 26

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May 24, 2002

College Celebrates 165th Commencement May 26


Class emblem design by
Lauren Snead '02

By the time Mount Holyoke's 494 graduating seniors reach Gettell Amphitheater on May 26, they will have participated in several days of receptions, open houses, worship services, concerts, parties, and tours that are as much rites of passage as the awarding of diplomas. Commencement activities began Thursday, May 23, with a barbecue for seniors at the president's house, followed by a senior slide show and party at Chapin Auditorium. On Friday, students and their guests will enjoy a concert at Abbey Memorial Chapel, a presentation by College founder Mary Lyon (played by Kate Carney M.A. '58), and a reception at the Willits-Hallowell Center. New this year will be "Professors Unplugged," at which four professors chosen by the seniors will address subjects relevant to seniors' experiences at Mount Holyoke. That event will take place on Friday in Pratt Hall. Saturday's events include "A Night in Italy" dinner on Skinner Green, baccalaureate at Abbey Memorial Chapel, and fireworks and a canoe sing at Lower Lake, a tradition originally called "Senior Serenade" that dates to 1911.

Commencement Activities at a Glance

For a complete schedule, click here.

Saturday also brings the much-loved alumnae parade and laurel chain ceremony. At 9 am, a marching band will accompany alumnae and students from Woolley Circle to Mary Lyon's grave for a ceremony led by Alumnae Association President Karen M. Hendricks '76. The class of 2002 will carry a garland of laurel, a plant that was a symbol of honor, achievement, glory, prophecy, and inspiration in antiquity. More than one hundred years ago, students paid tribute to College founder Mary Lyon by placing two wreaths of mountain laurel and forget-me-nots at her grave while singing "Holyoke, Tried and True." In 1902, students walked to the grave carrying laurel formed into a chain, a practice that has become one of the College's most cherished commencement traditions. Parade participants will wear white dresses to show solidarity with the suffragettes who wore white when campaigning for women's right to vote. They will sing "Bread and Roses," a poem-turned-song that was taken up by strikers demanding reasonable hours and pay at a textile mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1912.

Presiding at the commencement exercises on Sunday will be Acting President Beverly Daniel Tatum, who has served as MHC president during President Joanne V. Creighton's six-month sabbatical. Queen Noor of Jordan, known throughout the world for promoting international exchange and understanding of Middle Eastern politics, Arab-Western relations, and global issues, will deliver the commencement address. She will receive the degree of doctor of humane letters from the College and will be joined by four other honorary degree recipients: Reverend Peter Gomes, a best-selling author and one of the nation's foremost preachers; Ellen Baxter, an advocate for the homeless; Claude de Renty du Granrut '48, a deputy mayor, who represents her region of Picardy, France, to a European Union committee; and Professor Lila M. Gierasch '70, a leading authority on protein chemistry. Sara Curtin '02, an English major and music minor from Chicopee, Massachusetts, will speak on behalf of her classmates.

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