Some 1,900 seniors and graduate students will receive degrees at MIT's 131st Commencement on Friday, June 6. About 8,000 relatives and guests are expected to attend the scheduled outdoor exercises in Killian Court.
The Commencement program starting at 10am will feature United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan as the principal speaker. Mr. Annan, who was appointed to a five-year term as Secretary-General beginning January 1, received the SM in management from the Sloan School of Management in 1972. He has played a key diplomatic role in managing many of the crises the world has faced during his 30-year UN career.
"Mr. Annan's international perspective is particularly apt as MIT expands its activities with universities, governments and industries in many parts of the world to use technology and development as a means of improving global well-being," said President Charles M. Vest. "We want not only to advance technologies but prepare our students to work effectively in this new global workplace."
President Vest will also speak at Commencement, giving his charge to the graduates.
The formal activities begin at 9:45am with the traditional academic procession, which leaves from the 77 Massachusetts Ave. 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 chief marshal DuWayne J. Peterson Jr., 1996-97 president of the MIT Association of Alumni and Alumnae and president of the consulting firm DuWayne Peterson Associates in Pasadena, CA.
Dr. Paul E. Gray will preside at his final Commencement as chairman of the MIT Corporation. Dr. Gray, who was chancellor of MIT from 1971-80 and president from 1980-90, will complete his service as chairman on July 1. He will continue to teach at MIT.
The invocation will be given by the Rev. Constance Parvey, MIT Lutheran chaplain.
Following the Secretary-General's speech, Constantine A. Morfopoulos, president of the Graduate Student Council, will deliver a salute to MIT from the graduate student body. Pardis C. Sabeti, president of the Class of 1997, will present the senior class gift to Dr. Vest, who will then give the charge.
For the awarding of more than 2,000 degrees (a number of graduates get more than one), Dr. Vest will present diplomas to the bachelor of science degree recipients and those receiving both bachelor of science and master of science degrees, while Provost Joel Moses will give out advanced degrees. The two lines of students will approach the stage simultaneously as their names are announced in an alternating pattern as the degrees are handed out.
Those receiving their doctoral degrees on Friday also will attend a special hooding ceremony on the day before Commencement, (Thursday, June 5) in Rockwell Cage. At that ceremony, department heads or their representatives will assist the school deans in hooding the degree recipients. Receptions will be held for the graduates and their guests.
Following Friday's Commencement program, President and Mrs. Vest will hold a reception for graduates and their guests 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 on a recorded message that can be heard by calling x3-7669.
In the event of bad weather, arrangements have been made for a back-up program in Rockwell Cage open to graduating students, faculty and participants in the ceremony, but not families and friends because of limited space. Families and friends would 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 advanced 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 6pm on Friday, a commissioning ceremony will be held for 15 graduating cadets and midshipmen in MIT's Army, Air Force and Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) units under the masts of the historic frigate USS Constitution at the Charlestown Navy Yard Historical Park. The speaker will be Vice Admiral Patricia Ann Tracey, chief of naval education and training.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 21, 1997.