Multimedia: 33 powerful moments from Commencement 2016
Moments from Commencement Day 2016, from the diplomas emerging from the Registrar’s safekeeping to the serving of lobster rolls and other celebratory edibles at lunchtime.
Held by the Registrar until Commencement morning, the day’s precious cargo of 462 diplomas is delivered by Facility Services to the Coram Library stage.
Thirty-seven minutes before the start of the academic procession, seniors hang with friends on Alumni Walk before heading to their prescribed alphabetical stations.
Regalia in hand, President Clayton Spencer arrives at Alumni Walk.
Anytime on Commencement morning is the right time for a hug. Matthew Proto ’16 (left) of Chatham, N.J., and Robert DiFranco ’16 of Melrose, Mass., have been friends since their first year.
Regalia in place, President Spencer strikes a pose.
Shannon Griffin ’16 of Philadelphia, who will deliver the day’s Senior Address, meets Rep. John R. Lewis, who will deliver the Commencement Address.
In her speech, Griffin recalled a Bates history class, in which Associate Professor of History Hilmar Jensen asked his students if they would be as brave as those Northern students who joined the Freedom Riders in 1964.
“Would we be brave enough to speak up in the face of injustice? Congressman John Lewis, an American hero and civil rights leader, is here today as I continue to reflect on that question — that is the power and magnitude of a Bates education.”
The academic procession gets going, including these members of the platform party. Foreground, from left, are Charles Nero, professor of rhetoric; Rep. John Lewis, Commencement speaker; and Geri FitzGerald ’75, Bates trustee.
Behind them are Jack Keigwin ’59, Bates trustee emeritus; University of Alabama System Chancellor Bob Witt ’62, honorary degree recipient; and Jim Callahan ’65, Bates trustee emeritus.
Blake Reilly, assistant director of residential life, congratulates seniors as the academic procession moves onto the Historic Quad.
Members of the Facility Services’ custodial staff, who get to know many seniors during their work in college residence halls and academic buildings, cheer on the grads.
The seniors wind their way around the Historic Quad, passing by Gomes Chapel (1913).
Lecturer in Psychology Susan Langdon and Professor of French and Francophone Studies Kirk Read march in the colors of their respective doctoral institutions, Boston University and Princeton University.
As the academic procession assembles before them, members of the platform party regard the goings on: Associate Professor of Politics John Baughman, Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Matt Auer, and Alumni Association President Michael Lieber ’92.
Each had a role: Baughman served as the host for honorary degree recipient Robert Witt ’62; Auer presented the honorary degree candidates and bachelor’s degree candidates; and Lieber welcomed the grads to ranks of alumni.
Family and friends do their best to spot their grads as the seniors make their way to scene of their graduation.
Friends cheer on their friends as the academic procession moves toward Coram Library.
Yessenia Saucedo ’16 of Oakland, Calif., joins her classmates as they settle into their seats for the ceremony.
Bestselling novelist and neuroscientist Lisa Genova ’92 listens to the reading of the citation for her honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. The conferral stated:
“Lisa Genova, your alma mater has delighted in your successes and found inspiration in your deeply personal and purposeful work. Trained to understand brain disorders as biology, you changed direction and set out to explore them from the geography of the heart. Countering fear with empathy, you bring all you are to all you do. You are a riveting storyteller, a mighty advocate, and a brilliant model for our students.”
The Bates faculty joins the entire Commencement audience in giving Rep. John R. Lewis a standing ovation as he receives the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. The conferral stated:
“You have never given up and never backed away from taking bold and brave steps toward the realization of the Beloved Community. You have worked tirelessly to heal the wounds of slavery, segregation, and oppression, devoting your life to bridging the great divide in our nation and striving to make us whole.
“How do we honor such a hero? We continue your march. We carry your banner. We believe in the best of ourselves — and each other — practicing faith and patience, seeking justice and peace.”
John Lewis begins his address by recognizing the role of a founding father of the modern civil rights movement — the Rev. Benjamin E. Mays, Class of 1920 — and Bates’ role in shaping that civil rights theorist and King mentor.
“I feel more than honored, I feel more than lucky, I feel blessed to be standing here on this campus to speak to you, the graduates, where a man by the name of Benjamin Mays once stood,” Lewis said. “Many, many years ago I got to know Dr. Mays. He was part of my inspiration, he was my friend, my leader.”
Lewis cited Mays’ statement that Bates did not emancipate him, but instead enabled him to emancipate himself.
“This is the great power of education, and Dr. Benjmain Mays is a shining example,” Lewis said. “I want to thank Bates College for what you did, and continue to do, to free and liberate humankind.”
At stage left, seniors walk up the ramp to receive their diplomas. At stage right, they depart with sheepskin in hand.
Phillip Dube ’16 of Norton, Zimbabwe, hugs President Spencer as he receives his degree in environmental studies.
President Spencer congratulates a newly minted grad. In her welcoming remarks, Spencer pointed out that the Class of 2016 began at Bates the same year she did.
“What I am most proud of, beyond these impressive facts and figures, are the human qualities you embody — your creativity, your generosity, your drive for justice, your wacky humor, and your joy in, and caring for, one another.”
Christopher Pelz ’16 and Jonathan Pelz ’16 of New York City were among 13 sets of twins who were students at Bates in 2016.
Christopher majored in neuroscience; Jonathan majored in economics, Japanese, and East Asian Studies.
Dapper and coordinated, these family members take photos of their grad.
Like clockwork, the flow of grads across the stage has a few moving parts.
As his classmates await their turn to step forward, Teddy Rube ’16, a summa cum laude honors major in classical and medieval studies, accepts his diploma from President Spencer.
At left, faculty marshal John Creasey, professor emeritus of geology, checks each diploma before he hands the next one to Spencer.
Some 460 graduates crossing the stage means there are almost as many emotions crossing their faces, including surprise and joy as Tucker Trimble ’16, a magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa rhetoric major from Cape Neddick, Maine, receives her diploma.
As caps go skyward during the recessional, mace bearer Michael Murray and President Spencer happily follow their trajectories.
The Recessional is a traditional time for the grateful grads to thank their proud professors.
Diplomas prove to be a powerful symbol of Bates achievement as grads and families come together.
William Cleaves ’16, an honors English grad from South Portland, Maine, gathers with family members, including cousin John McDevitt ’04 (right) and McDevitt’s daughter, Norah, 7 months, for post-Commencement photos on the steps of Hathorn Hall.
Kelsey Berry ’16, a rhetoric major from Hollis, N.H., and her mom, Kristen, approve of Kelsey’s diploma.
Yessenia Saucedo ’16, a politics major from Oakland, Calif., holds her mortarboard after the ceremony.
Jalen Baker ’16, a sociology major from Cedar Hill, Texas, and Associate Dean of Students James Reese pose for a photo after Commencement.
The emotional intensity of Commencement now fading away, families, friends, and their graduates adjourn to the Library Quad for the Commencement Lunch.