With every ending, a new beginning

Friday marks a new chapter in the lives of members of the Class of 2009.

Many graduates will leave Washington University to start new careers in medicine, law or business; others will pursue further education in a chosen field. Still others will serve humanity through teaching or volunteering, and some will seek to simply find their place in the world.

Washington University will send out into the world 2,642 new graduates receiving 2,765 degrees following Commencement Friday, May 15. Ceremonies begin at 8:30 a.m. in Brookings Quadrangle.

Whatever the pursuit, all can leave knowing they — whether through service, scholarship or simply a friendly embrace — have left a lasting mark on the University community.

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton will confer degrees at the 148th Commencement ceremony, which begins at 8:30 a.m. Friday, May 15, in Brookings Quadrangle. The 2,642 candidates will receive 2,765 degrees, of which 1,422 are undergraduate and 1,343 are graduate and professional.

There are 568 doctoral candidates, comprising 99 for the doctor of philosophy degree from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, 274 for the juris doctoris degree from the School of Law, one for the juris scientiae doctoris from the School of Law and 194 for degrees from the School of Medicine.

In the event of rain, Commencement still will take place in the Quad. If the weather turns violent, the ceremony for undergraduates will be moved to the Athletic Complex, and graduate and professional degrees will be bestowed at each respective school’s Commencement reception (see listing on page 4).

Streaming video of the ceremony will be broadcast online at commencement.wustl.edu and available at any computer with Internet access and QuickTime, which can be downloaded at the Commencement Web site.

The Web cast also can be viewed in Room 110 of January Hall and in Rooms 100 (wheelchair accessible) and 118 of Brown Hall.

Wendy Kopp, chief executive officer and founder of Teach For America, will deliver the Commencement address.

Twenty years ago, Kopp proposed, in her Princeton University undergraduate thesis, the creation of Teach For America — the national corps of outstanding college graduates who commit to teach for at least two years in some of the country’s highest-need schools and become lifelong leaders in pursuit of educational excellence and equity.

As a 21-year-old, Kopp raised $2.5 million of start-up funding, hired a skeleton staff and launched a grass roots recruitment campaign. During Teach For America’s first year in 1990, 500 men and women, selected from 2,500 applicants, began teaching in six low-income communities across the country.

Since then, more than 20,000 individuals have participated in Teach For America, impacting the lives of approximately 3 million students. Teach For America has provided more teachers for low-income communities than any other organization.

Teach For America’s 14,000 alumni also are working to expand educational opportunity and to address the underlying causes of educational inequity from a variety of sectors. A significant number of alumni hold leadership roles in education — as veteran teachers, principals, district leaders and even superintendents — in high-need regions across the country.

In 1994, Time magazine recognized Kopp as one of the 40 most promising leaders under 40; in 2006, U.S. News & World Report named her one of America’s best leaders; and, in 2008, Time named her one of the world’s 100 most influential leaders.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton, where she participated in the undergraduate program of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Also at Commencement, honorary degrees will be awarded to:

• Robert L. Virgil, Ph.D., emeritus dean of the Olin Business School, emeritus professor of accounting and emeritus trustee of Washington University, doctor of laws;

• Robert H. Waterston, M.D., Ph.D., the William H. Gates III Endowed Chair in Biomedical Sciences and chairman of the Department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, doctor of science; and

• Patty Jo Watson, Ph.D., the Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology Emerita in Arts & Sciences, doctor of humane letters.

Commencement will begin with the traditional academic procession into the Quad, which will be led by grand marshal Robert E. Wiltenburg, Ph.D., dean of University College in Arts & Sciences, and then by honorary grand marshal Dorsey D. Ellis Jr., J.D., dean of the School of Law from 1987-1998.

For more than 20 years, Ellis has been an integral part of the WUSTL community.

As dean of the School of Law, Ellis oversaw the planning, construction and funding of Anheuser-Busch Hall, the school’s state-of-the-art teaching and research facility; the successful completion of the law school’s first capital campaign 21 months ahead of schedule; and an increase in the size, stature and diversity of the faculty as well as an increase in the strength and diversity of the student body.

He also bolstered the school’s interdisciplinary teaching through joint-degree programs with East Asian studies and European studies, both in Arts & Sciences, and with environmental engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

Other highlights of his tenure include: increasing substantially the number and scope of the school’s lawyering skills courses; invigorating the first-year legal research and writing program; merging computer and library services into a leading department of information resources; twice managing a self-study and re-accreditation process; hosting numerous legal conferences featuring eminent scholars and practitioners; and expanding the school’s international ties through broadened faculty teaching and scholarship and advanced degree programs for lawyers from other countries.

In 1999, Ellis returned to his first love — teaching — when he was appointed the William R. Orthwein Distinguished Professor of Law.

Ellis has taught in the areas of legal history, antitrust, regulated industries, law and economics, and torts. He has published on constitutional history, torts, antitrust, law and economics and punitive damages.

He serves as academic director of the law school’s Transnational Law Program, which allows U.S. students to study at both Washington University School of Law and Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

Ellis came to Washington University from the University of Iowa, where he was vice president for finance and university services, special assistant to the president, acting assistant dean of the faculties and a professor of law.

Ellis earned a bachelor’s degree in 1960 from Maryville College in Tennessee and a law degree from the University of Chicago in 1963. Maryville College conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 1998.

He and his wife, Sondra, have two children — Laura, a lawyer, and Geoffrey, a graduate of the Olin Business School — and two grandchildren, Mackenzie and Tate.

Also at Commencement, approximately 80 alumni from the Class of 1959, celebrating their 50th reunion, will march in the opening procession.

For the 29th consecutive Commencement, the program will begin with music by The Mighty Mississippi Concert Band of St. Louis, under the direction of Dan Presgrave, music director/conductor of the Washington University Symphony Orchestra, the Washington University Wind Ensemble and the St. Louis Wind Symphony.

Alan Naylor and Joshua Stanton, who each will receive a master of music degree from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, will sing “America the Beautiful.”

David A. Ross, president of the senior class, will deliver the student Commencement greeting.

Conferral of academic degrees will follow, with the deans of each of the schools and Edward S. Macias, Ph.D., provost, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs and the Barbara and David Thomas Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences, assisting Wrighton.

After the conferral of degrees, Wrighton will deliver his message to the Class of 2009.

Caroline Miller, who will receive a bachelor’s degree in music and English literature from the College of Arts & Sciences, will conclude the ceremony by singing the “Alma Mater.”

Afterward, the University’s schools will hold receptions for graduates and their guests.