Savor the memories at Commencement

The day that more than 2,500 students — and even more parents — have been waiting for is finally here. Nearly 10,000 people will share in the tradition and excitement of the University’s 142nd Commencement today in Brookings Quadrangle.

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton will award the degrees in the ceremony, which starts at 8:30 a.m. Of the 2,502 candidates, 1,379 are undergraduate and 1,123 are graduate and professional.

Graduates in Brookings Quadrangle
Joy and tradition will converge in Brookings Quadrangle for today’s 142nd Commencement. – File Photo, Joe Angeles

There are 429 doctoral candidates, including 71 for the doctor of philosophy degree from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences; nine for the doctor of science degree from the Henry Edwin Sever Graduate School of Enginering & Applied Science; 242 for the juris doctoris degree from the School of Law; and 107 for degrees from the School of Medicine.

In the event of rain, Com-mencement exercises will still take place in the Quad. If the weather turns threatening, the ceremony for undergraduates will be moved to the Athletic Complex, while graduate and professional degrees will be bestowed at each respective school’s Commencement reception.

For the first time, Commencement will be broadcast live on the Internet at

Madeleine Albright, former U.S. secretary of state, will give the Commencement address. She was sworn in as the 64th secretary of state on Jan. 23, 1997, becoming the first female to hold the post and the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government.

Accomplishments during her tenure include the expansion and modernization of NATO and its successful campaign to reverse ethnic cleansing in Kosovo; the promotion of peace in Northern Ireland and the Balkans; the reduction of nuclear dangers from Russia; and the expansion of democracy in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Honorary degrees also will be awarded at Commencement. In addition to Albright, who will receive a doctor of humanities, the other honorary degree recipients are: Herman N. Eisen, M.D., professor emeritus and senior lecturer in the Department of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, doctor of science; Douglass C. North, Ph.D., Washington University’s Spencer T. Olin Professor in Arts & Sciences and co-recipient of the 1993 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, doctor of science;

Ozzie Smith, retired St. Louis Cardinals shortstop and holder of 13 Gold Gloves for his defensive skills, doctor of humanities; William P. Stiritz, former chairman, president and chief executive officer of Ralston Purina Co., doctor of humanities; and Blanche M. Touhill, Ph.D., professor emeritus of history and education and chancellor emeritus at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, doctor of humanities.

Commencement will begin with the traditional academic procession into the Quad. Owen J. Sexton, Ph.D., professor emeritus of biology in Arts & Sciences, is the honorary grand marshal and will lead the procession.

Commencement will begin at 8:30 a.m. today with the traditional academic procession into Brookings Quadrangle.
Commencement will begin at 8:30 a.m. today with the traditional academic procession into Brookings Quadrangle. – File photo, David Kilper

Sexton is a world-class wildlife biologist and ecologist. He has studied ecosystems throughout Central and Latin America and other parts of the world including Missouri, where his varied research interests include amphibians, reptiles, and the endangered collard lizard in the state’s glades and prairies.

In 1996, he was named director of the University’s Tyson Research Center, the 2,000-acre oak-hickory forest and prairie in western St. Louis County.

He served a three-year term as Tyson’s director and has been conducting field research at Tyson since the 1960s. His research interests there have varied from reproduction of oak trees to snakes and deer.

Approximately 125 alumni from the Class of 1953, celebrating their 50th reunion, will march in the opening procession.

For the 23rd straight Commencement, the program will begin with music by The Mighty Mississippi Concert Band of St. Louis, under the direction of Dan Presgrave, director of the University Symphony Orchestra and University Wind Ensemble and lecturer in the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences.

Karen Hetzler, who will receive a master of vocal performance degree, will also sing “America the Beautiful.”

Jason Green, president of the senior class, will deliver the student Commencement greeting (click here to view full story).

Conferral of academic degrees will follow, with the deans of each of the schools and Edward S. Macias, Ph.D., executive vice chancellor and dean of Arts & Sciences, assisting Wrighton.

After the conferral of degrees, Wrighton will deliver his message to the Class of 2003.

Nathan Ruggles, who will receive a master of vocal performance degree, will also conclude the ceremony by singing the “Alma Mater.”

After the ceremony, the University’s schools will hold receptions for graduates and their guests (see Commencement Week calendar).