MIT is awaiting its annual crowning moment, commencement day, and hoping for fair weather.
The Institute's 127th commencement will be held on Friday, May 28, when degrees will be awarded to some 1,800 seniors and graduate students. About 8,000 relatives and guests will be on campus for the exercises, scheduled to be held outdoors in Killian Court.
The formal activities begin at 9:45am with the traditional academic procession. It leaves from the 77 Massachusetts Avenue entrance to the Institute, moving south for a short distance and then east on Memorial Drive to Killian Court. The procession will be led by the chief marshal, Robert A. Muh of San Francisco, Calif., a member of the MIT Corporation and 1992-93 president of the Alumni/ae Association.
The commencement program, starting at 10 o'clock, will have President Carlos Salinas de Gortari of Mexico as the principal speaker. He has been widely credited for astute leadership and for economic and social reforms that have energized his nation. As part of his plan to liberalize and expand Mexico's economy, he played a key role in formulating the North American Free Trade agreement linking Mexico, the United States and Canada.
Also planning to attend the exercises, as a member of the 50th reunion class, is Virgilio Barco, former president of Colombia and the MIT commencement speaker in 1990.
MIT President Charles M. Vest also will speak, giving his charge to the graduates.
Dr. Paul E. Gray, chairman of the MIT Corporation, will preside at the exercises.
The invocation will be given by Rabbi Daniel Shavitz.
Following President Salinas's speech, Anand Mehta, president of the Graduate Student Council, will deliver a salute to MIT from the graduate student body. Reshma P. Patel, president of the Class of 1993, then will present the senior class gift to Dr. Vest, who will then give the charge.
For the awarding of some 2,000 degrees-a number of graduates get more than one-Dr. Vest will present diplomas to the bachelor of science degree recipients and also those receiving both bachelor of science and master of science degrees, while Provost Mark S. Wrighton gives out advanced degrees. The two lines of students approach the stage simultaneously, and the names are announced in an alternating pattern as the degrees are handed out.
Those receiving their doctoral degrees on Friday already will have been hooded in a special ceremony on the day before commencement, Thursday, May 27, in Rockwell Cage. At that ceremony, department heads or their representatives will assist the school deans in hooding the degree recipients. The departments then will hold receptions for the graduates and their guests.
Following the commencement program, President Vest will hold a reception for graduates and their guests-and for alumni both of the 50th reunion Class of 1943 and the 25th reunion Class of 1968-at several locations in or near McDermott Court.
Only severe weather could cause a change in plans for the commencement festivities. In that event, information will be available on commencement morning through radio announcements and by calling either 253-SNOW for a recorded message or the Information Center at 253-4795.
Arrangements have been made for a backup program in the Rockwell Cage open to graduating students, faculty and participants in the ceremony-but not families and friends, because of limited space.
Families and friends could view the ceremony over closed-circuit television at the six locations where diplomas would be distributed to the graduates following the ceremony. But graduating students can take heart in the knowledge that this has happened only once-last year-in the 14 years commencements have been held outside to accommodate growing numbers of relatives and guests.
A second important event awaits some of the graduates, relatives and guests on commencement day.
At 5pm on Friday afternoon, a commissioning ceremony will be held for about 30 graduating cadets and midshipmen in MIT's Army, Air Force and Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) units on the deck of the currently-dry-docked frigate USS Constitution at the Charlestown Navy Yard Historical Park. The speaker will be Navy Vice Admiral Richard C. Macke.
A version of this article appeared in the May 19, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 37, Number 33).