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The stage is set for Commencement '97
More than 4,800 to graduate next week
By Richard Veilleux
May 9, 1997
More than 4,800 undergraduate and graduate students, soon-to-be attorneys, doctors, dentists and social workers, as well as pending Army and Air Force officers, are poised to take the next step in their careers as the University prepares for Commencement 1997.
The largest event, ceremonies for 2,981 undergraduates on May 17, actually begins May 14, when seniors open their fourth annual Cruisin' to Commencement celebration, a four-day senior week event that this year adds a trip to Foxwoods Casino to their regular fare. Activities include a cruise along the Connecticut River, complete with a disc jockey, dancing and food, and a Senior Send Off on May 16, starting at noon with barbecues and games at Holiday Hill campgrounds in Mansfield, and ending with a semi-formal dinner and dance at Jorgensen Auditorium.
Then, on Saturday May 17, at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., Commencement ceremonies add the crowning achievement to their years at UConn. Robert W. Fiondella, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Phoenix Home Life Mutual Insurance Co., and a long-time civic leader, will be the keynote speaker at both ceremonies.
Following tradition, graduates of the School of Business Administra- tion will be joined by members of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the schools of allied health, nursing, family studies, fine arts, pharmacy, engineering and continuing education during the morning ceremony. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - UConn's largest, with 1,178 graduates this year - and the School of Education will follow in the afternoon.
On Sunday, May 18, David Lee, a Cornell University physicist, UConn alumnus and co-winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in physics, will address 1,325 master's degree candidates, 252 doctoral students, and 21 educators who will receive their sixth-year certificate. The 3 p.m. ceremonies, like the undergraduate event the day before, will be held in the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion.
"There's no money in the budget for overtime, so we're getting it done during the normal working day," said Brian Krystof, head of the landscaping department. "But we're in good shape. Everybody's working hard, and Open House (April 12) gave us a good jump start - we get a lot of mulching and sprucing up done for that. And Mother Nature really helps us. Everything is turning green, the flowers and shrubs are blooming. It's really a beautiful campus."
All the efforts of the facilities staff, faculty, and the hundreds of other UConn employees involved in Commencement comes to a head early - very early for some - the morning of May 17, when workers begin trickling onto campus, ready to accommodate the graduates and the anticipated 10,000 other guests who will visit Storrs.
The day officially begins when the faculty procession forms at 9:30 a.m. on the lower level of the Pavilion. The 10 a.m. graduates, meanwhile, will mass on the Student Union Mall and Grad Field across Hillside Road from Gampel. Then, to the strains of March Processional by Nino Marcelli and Qui Transtulit Sustinet by Thomas Duffy, played by the University Wind Ensemble, the processional will begin at 9:50 a.m.
At about 2 p.m., it starts all over again.
On Sunday, master's and doctoral degree candidates have their turn, with the forming of processionals starting at 2:15 p.m. Graduates will be addressed by Cornell's Lee, the Nobel winner, who will be accompanied on the platform by six honorary degree recipients: industrialist Aaron Feuerstein of Lawrence, Mass.; movie producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr.; financier Norman Hascoe; psychologist Alvin M. Liberman; Rex Nettleford, a historian, writer, dancer, and academic; and Antonia Pantoja, who in 1995 won the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her tireless work in the educational and leadership development of Puerto Rican youth in the United States and in Puerto Rico.
Similar celebrations - and preparations - will occur at 10 a.m. that morning at the UConn Law School in Hartford, where Joette Katz, a justice on the Connecticut Supreme Court and UConn Law School graduate, will deliver the commencement address to about 225 graduates at the law school on Elizabeth Street. And, during ceremonies at the UConn Health Center at 6 p.m. May 22, Doctor of Medicine degrees will be presented to 84 students, and Doctor of Dental Medicine degrees will be awarded to 39 aspiring dentists.
Health Center graduates will be addressed by Sherwin Nuland, author of the critically acclaimed How We Die (1995) and a former surgeon at Yale-New Haven Hospital. William C. Steere Jr., chairman and chief executive officer at Pfizer Inc., will receive an honorary doctor of science degree.
At 10 a.m. May 18, the School of Social Work will hold its hooding ceremony at The Bushnell in Hartford.
At 7 p.m. May 16, Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert E. Larned will commission Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) cadets from UConn and several other Connecticut colleges as second lieutenants