Commencement weekend will be packed with activities and will feature high-profile speakers such as President George W. Bush ’68 and New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton LAW ’73. About 20,000 guests are expected.
Commencement exercises begin at 10:30 a.m., Monday, May 21 on Old Campus, where rows of seats line the green from the edge of Lanman-Wright Hall to the tip of Vanderbilt Hall. Bush will receive an honorary degree at this year’s ceremony. Clinton will address graduates and guests the day before as Class Day speaker.
Immediately following commencement exercises, students will be presented with diplomas under tents in their residential college courtyards at noon, followed by buffet luncheons. Saybrook College students will receive their diplomas on Old Campus, because of renovations in their college.
Commencement is not the only gala weekend of the year. For its 300th birthday, the University planned several extravagant weekend celebrations, but administrators said the tercentennial celebrations will be kept low-key during this 300th Commencement.
“The focus is truly on the celebration of commencement and the achievements of our graduates,” Commencement Coordinator Lauralee Field said.
The weekend will begin with a reception for seniors and their guests given by Yale President Richard and Mrs. Jane Levin on Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. at 43 Hillhouse Avenue.
Baccalaureate addresses will begin at 9:30 a.m. in Woolsey Hall for seniors and their guests from Calhoun, Timothy Dwight, Morse, Pierson, Saybrook, and Ezra Stiles colleges. Addresses for Berkeley, Branford, Davenport, Jonathan Edwards, Silliman, and Trumbull will begin at 11 a.m.
Baccalaureate features an address by Levin, as well as remarks by the Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead and University Chaplain Rev. Frederick Streets. Degree candidates from the Graduate School and the professional schools may attend either service. No tickets are necessary for Class Day, baccalaureate addresses or Commencement.Ê
Class Day exercises, which include the awarding of academic, artistic and athletic honors and the celebration of undergraduate traditions will be held Sunday, May 20 at 2 p.m. on Old Campus.
Journalists Bob Woodward ’65, David Gergen ’63, and Tom Brokaw preceeded Clinton as Class Day speakers the past three years.
In addition to hearing the keynote address and receiving awards on Class Day, seniors are presented with their class history and “Ivy Ode,” a poem written by a graduating student.
Later that afternoon, the masters and associate masters of each residential college will hold receptions in their colleges at 4:30 p.m. At the same time the University Chaplain’s office will hold Service of Remembrance in Battell Chapel to honor family members and friends who died during the past year.
University Dining Services will offer a special buffet dinner in Commons on Sunday, May 20. Reservations are required. The Class of 2001 Commencement Ball, a traditional event for family members and students, will be held in the Lanman Center in Payne Whitney Gymnasium at 10 p.m.
Many student performers will display their talents during commencement weekend. The Yale Dramatic Association presents the Commencement musical, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” Friday, May 18 at 8 p.m., Saturday, May 19 at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday, May 20 at 8:30 p.m. at 222 York Street.
The Yale Glee Club will perform Saturday May 18 at 8 p.m. in Woolsey Hall. The Yale School of Music will present its Commencement Concert on Sunday, May 20 at 4 p.m. in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Memorial Hall.
That night, the Yale Concert Band will perform its Twilight Concert on Old Campus at 7 p.m. The Whiffenpoofs and Whim ‘N Rhythm will perform in Woolsey Hall at 8 p.m. The Yale Women’s Slavic Chorus will also hold their Commencement Concert at 8 p.m., in Dwight Chapel.
Commencement has been held on Old Campus since 1950, when the postwar increase in the size of graduating classes forced Commencement out of Woolsey Hall. The first Commencement was held in Saybrook, Conn., on September 16, 1702 in the home of Reverend Thomas Buckingham, one of Yale’s founders. The first Commencement in New Haven was held in Center Church in 1717 for a graduating class of five students.
Center Church was the venue for Commencement until 1895, and today’s graduating seniors still proceed around the church before heading back toward Phelps Gate.