From processional to recessional, watch video clips of the entire 153rd Commencement, held May 26, 2019.

Table of Contents

  1. Processional
  2. Welcome by President Clayton Spencer
  3. Senior Address by Claire Naughton
  4. Travis Mills receives honorary degree
  5. Megan Smith receives honorary degree
  6. Jennifer Doudna receives honorary degree
  7. Commencement Address by Jennifer Doudna
  8. Commencement Choir: “In My Life”
  9. Conferral of Degrees
  10. The turning of the tassels
  11. Presentation of the Senior Gift
  12. Alumni Association Welcome
  13. Benediction
  14. Recessional


The ceremonies associated with Commencement date back to medieval times. The senior faculty member bears the mace, a symbol of power and authority, at the front of the procession. The president of the college, the honorands, their hosts, the dean of the faculty, the multifaith chaplain, the president of the Alumni Association, and the trustees follow. They are themselves followed by two faculty marshals, senior college officials, and the faculty, and finally by two junior marshals and the graduating class.

Welcome by President Spencer

“What I am most proud of, beyond these impressive facts and figures, are the human qualities you embody — your adventurous spirits, your creativity, your generosity, and your drive to justice,” President Clayton Spencer said. “Most of all, I love your joy in, and caring for, one another.”

Senior Address by Claire Naughton

Bates, Naughton said, is “the place that taught us to crave the freedom of flight. And now we’re standing on the edge of a tower overlooking an ocean. And just on the horizon line you can see everything you’ve ever wanted to be.

“It’s time to believe in yourself and your victories and failures. It’s time to feel the heat of the sun on your back. It’s time to jump.”

Travis Mills receives his honorary degree

Travis Mills is a Maine resident and Army veteran who became a quadruple amputee in combat and is now an advocate for combat-injured veterans.

Megan Smith receives her honorary degree

Megan Smith is the CEO of shift7 and a former Google executive and U.S. chief technology officer. She is a visionary for tech innovation, collaboration, education, and inclusivity.

Jennifer Doudna receives her honorary degree

Jennifer Doudna is an internationally renowned biochemist who is the co-inventor of the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology and a leading public voice in the discussion of its societal and ethical implications.

Commencement Address by Jennifer Doudna

Whatever field you go into, Doudna said, involve yourselves in the broad public discourse about the “topics you care deeply about.”

“We must rebuild public trust in our work, and we must explain to our fellow citizens why our work matters, not just to publish the next academic article or to make the next advance in our field, but truly to advance human knowledge and to improve the human condition.”

Commencement Choir: “In My Life”

The Commencement Choir, conducted by Lecturer in Music John Corrie, performed an a cappella rendition of The Beatles’ “In My Life.”

Conferral of degrees

469 members of the Class of 2019 received degrees. They come from 36 U.S. states and another 36 countries.

The turning of the tassels

In moving the tassels on their caps from right to left, the members of the Class of 2019 received their degrees.

Presentation of the Senior Gift

Senior Gift Co-Chairs Erika Lamere, Elizah Laurenceau, and Taylor Lough announced a new participation record for a senior class, at 92.5 percent, representing 434 members of the class, who donated a total of $6,246.

Alumni Association welcome

“Bates alumni have been key to the strength of our college since its founding,” said Larry Handerhan ’05, president of the Alumni Council. “So I encourage you to stay engaged, stay curious, stay connected — and seek the joy in this place and the people and ideas it introduced you to.

“Your path after Bates will not be linear — but everywhere you turn, you will find a Batesie holding the door for you.”


“May you be a stout, unlit candle,” said Multifaith Chaplain Brittany Longsdorf, “where passion and purpose can ignite and burn without ceasing.”


The Atlantic Clarion Steel Band launched a rocking number to get the recessional into gear.

View Comments