MIT will award degrees on Friday, May 27, to some 1,750 seniors and graduate students at its 128th commencement. About 8,000 relatives and guests will attend the scheduled outdoor exercises in Killian Court.
The formal activities begin at 9:45am with the traditional academic procession leaving from the 77 Massachusetts Avenue entrance to the Institute. The procession will be led by the chief marshal, Richard A. Jacobs of Northbrook, II, 1993-94 president of the MIT Association of Alumni and Alumnae.
The commencement program, starting at 10am, will feature The Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, as the principal speaker. Through private philanthropy, and following a family tradition of service in international affairs, he has enabled the very poor to enhance their lives in countries where the Ismailis live-largely the developing nations of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, but also Europe and North America. These efforts are taking place in the areas of primary health care, education, housing and social and economic development. In this role, the Aga Khan upholds Islamic culture and values while building bridges between the western and Muslim societies. He is the first Muslim commencement speaker at MIT.
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 Rev. Scott Paradise, Episcopal chaplain at MIT.
Following the Aga Khan's speech, Caryl B. Brown of St. Petersburg, FL, president of the Graduate Student Council, will deliver a salute to MIT from the graduate student body. Ann Chen of Lexington, MA, president of the Class of 1994, 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 will give out advanced degrees. The two lines of students will approach the stage simultaneously, and the names will be announced in an alternating pattern as the degrees are conferred.
Those receiving their doctoral degrees on Friday already will have been hooded in a special ceremony on the day before commencement, Thursday, May 26, 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/ae both of the 50th reunion Class of 1944 and the 25th reunion Class of 1969, at several locations in or near McDermott Court.
Only severe weather will 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 a closed-circuit telecast of the ceremony at several locations. Following the ceremony, bachelor of science degrees would be awarded by President Vest in the Johnson Athletics Center, while advance degrees would be distributed by School deans at five different locations.
A second important event awaits some of the graduates, relatives and guests on commencement day.
At 4:30pm 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 alongside the historic frigate USS Constitution at the Charlestown Navy Yard Historical Park. The speaker will be Air Force Secretary Sheila Widnall, former MIT associate provost and professor of aeronautics and astronautics who is on leave from the Institute.
A version of this article appeared in the May 11, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 32).