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University gearing up for Commencement
May 11, 1998

Commencement News

Nearly 4,600 undergraduate and graduate students, soon-to-be attorneys, doctors, dentists and social workers, as well as several dozen pending Army and Air Force officers, are poised to take the next step in their careers, as faculty and staff prepare the various campuses of the University for Commencement 1998.

The largest event, ceremonies for 2,771 undergraduates on May 16, actually begins May 14 when seniors begin their fifth annual Senior Week celebration, a three-day event that includes a cruise along the Connecticut River, complete with a disc jockey, dancing, and food, and a Senior Picnic on Friday, May 15, starting at noon with barbecues and games at the Centennial Alumni House, and ending with a semi-formal dinner and dance at Jorgensen Auditorium that evening.

Then, on May 16, at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., commencement ceremonies add the crowning achievement to their years at UConn. Former President George W. Bush will be the keynote speaker at both ceremonies. Candidates for graduation from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the schools of allied health, nursing, family studies, fine arts, pharmacy, engineering and continuing education will receive diplomas during the morning ceremony. Students enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - UConn's largest, with 1,143 graduates this year - and the schools of education and business will follow in the afternoon.

Raymond and Beverly Sackler, among the nation's most generous supporters of the arts, medical research and education, will each receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters on Saturday.

On Sunday, May 17, Varro E. Tyler, a retired professor of pharmacognosy and a leader in the field of herbal and natural medicine, will address 1,155 master's degree candidates, 273 doctoral students, and 47 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.

Student organizations and UConn maintainers and landscapers are pitching in to make the University's buildings and grounds sparkle. Every chair, railing, and inch of floor space at Gampel is being washed and polished. Outside the building, the landscape and grounds crew workers are busy mowing the campus's more than 300 acres of lawn and painting lightpoles, fire hydrants, crosswalks and trash cans, as well as continuing their regular duties.

The efforts of the facilities staff, faculty, and the hundreds of other UConn employees involved in commencement come to a head early on the morning of May 16, when commencement workers begin trickling onto campus, ready to accommodate the graduates and the anticipated 10,000 other guests who will visit Storrs during the day.

The event officially begins when the faculty procession forms at 8 a.m. on the lower level of the Pavilion. The 9 a.m. graduates, meanwhile, will mass on the Student Union Mall then, to the strains of a variety of processionals played by the University Wind Ensemble, the processional will begin at 8:30 a.m.

At about 12:30 p.m., it starts all over again.

On Sunday, master's and doctoral degree candidates have their turn, with the processional starting at 2:45 p.m. Graduates will be addressed by Tyler, a UConn graduate, who will be accompanied on the platform by author Frank McCourt, who wrote the acclaimed novel Angela's Ashes, and another UConn alumnus, Alphonse Chapanis, widely considered the father of ergonomics.

Similar celebrations - and preparations - will occur at 10:30 a.m. that morning at the UConn School of Law in Hartford, where U.S. Circuit Court Judge Jose Cabranes will deliver the commencement address to about 220 graduates at the law school on Elizabeth Street. And, during ceremonies at the UConn Health Center at 5:30 p.m. May 21, Doctor of Medicine degrees will be presented to 78 students and Doctor of Dental Medicine degrees to 41 aspiring dentists. Health Center graduates will be addressed by David A. Kessler, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from 1990-1997, who is now dean of the Yale University School of Medicine.

Richard Veilleux.