More than 3,000 degrees to be conferred today

153rd Commencement begins at 8:30 a.m. May 16 in Brookings Quadrangle

As the Record has been showcasing through stories, images and videos this week, the Class of 2014 at Washington University in St. Louis is a “Class Act.” A five-part series told the stories of a sampling of graduating students — undergraduate, graduate and professional — who are changing the world through research, service and innovation.

New Washington University in St. Louis graduates toss their caps in the air in celebration, one of several moments captured during the 2013 festivities (see more below).

(Credit: Joe Angeles/WUSTL Photos)

Today, surrounded by more than 12,000 family, friends, faculty, staff, administrators and university trustees, the class of 2014 will enter Brookings Quadrangle on the Danforth Campus at 8:30 a.m. as degree candidates and leave as graduates after Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton confers their degrees.

The 2,899 candidates at WUSTL’s 153rd Commencement will receive 3,030 degrees, of which 1,585 are undergraduate and 1,445 are graduate and professional.

(Credit: Whitney Curtis/WUSTL Photos)

There are 557 doctoral candidates, comprising 98 for the doctor of philosophy degree from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, 241 for the juris doctoris degree from the School of Law, one for the juris scientiae doctoris degree from the School of Law and 217 for degrees from the School of Medicine.

In the event of rain, Commencement still will take place in the Quad.

If threatening weather endangers safety, the violent weather plan would be activated by 7 a.m. If the plan is activated, the announcement will be posted on the university’s home page,, sent via a university-wide email, and publicized by local media.

Under the plan, the ceremony for undergraduates would take place in the Athletic Complex, and graduate and professional degree candidates would receive their diplomas at their schools’ scheduled Commencement receptions and recognition ceremonies. For more information about the violent weather plan, visit here.

Streaming video of the ceremony in the Quad will be broadcast online. The webcast also can be viewed in Brown Hall, rooms 100 and 118, and in January Hall, Room 110. All rooms are wheelchair-accessible.

Tony La Russa, who is being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame July 27 and is considered one of the best managers in baseball history, will deliver the Commencement address.

La Russa, who also is known for his tireless animal rescue work and for instilling in his players an interest in giving back to their communities, will receive an honorary doctor of humanities degree from WUSTL.

La Russa

During his 33-year career as a manager in Major League Baseball, La Russa won three World Series and 2,728 games, placing him third in all-time major league wins.

He managed the Chicago White Sox (1979-1986), Oakland Athletics (1986-1995) and St. Louis Cardinals (1996-2011).

In addition to leading the Athletics to the 1989 World Series title and the Cardinals to the 2006 and 2011 World Series titles, he also guided his teams to six league championships and 12 division titles.
For more on La Russa’s career and charity work, visit here.

Also at Commencement, honorary degrees will be awarded to:

  • Henry W. Bloch, co-founder of H&R Block and a civic leader and philanthropist who has worked to improve the quality of life in his hometown of Kansas City, doctor of humanities;
  • Temple Grandin, PhD, a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University whose insights into animal behavior and her innovations in livestock handling have revolutionized farm-animal welfare; doctor of humanities;
  • Vivian W. Pinn, MD, a senior scientist emerita at the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center and a highly regarded pioneer in women’s health, doctor of science;
  • David E. Robertson, music director of the St. Louis Symphony, chief conductor and artistic director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and one of today’s most sought-after American conductors, doctor of humane letters; and
  • Diana Chapman Walsh, PhD, the 12th president of Wellesley College who initiated a number of new programs during her tenure from 1993-2007, doctor of science.

Commencement will begin with the traditional academic procession into the Quad, which will be led by grand marshal Robert E. Wiltenburg, PhD, dean of University College in Arts & Sciences, and by honorary grand marshal Martha Storandt, PhD, professor emerita of psychology in Arts & Sciences and a pioneer in aging research.

(Credit: James Byard/WUSTL Photos)

When Storandt began studying the psychology of aging in the 1960s, the body of knowledge on Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of geriatric cognitive impairment was miniscule. Since then, her research and scholarship have greatly contributed to the wealth of information available today.

She has studied the cognitive changes that occur over a lifetime and compared how these changes differ among healthy individuals and those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Department of Psychology has been her intellectual home base since she left Little Rock, Ark., in 1958 and began her years as a Washington University student.

She helped establish the university’s Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging at the Institute for Public Health. She also is a founding faculty member of the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the School of Medicine and served as its director of psychometrics.

Also at Commencement, approximately 75 alumni from the Class of 1964, celebrating their 50th reunion, will march in the opening procession.

(Credit: James Byard/WUSTL Photos)

For the 34th consecutive Commencement, the program will begin with music by The Mighty Mississippi Concert Band of St. Louis, under the direction of Dan Presgrave, retired music director/conductor of the Washington University Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble.

Nicole Aldrich, director of choral activities, will sing “America the Beautiful” to open the ceremony as well as the “Alma Mater” to conclude the ceremony.

Varun P. Mehrotra, president of the senior class, will deliver the student Commencement greeting. (See story on Mehrotra here.)

Conferral of academic degrees will follow, with the deans of each of the schools and Holden Thorp, PhD, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, assisting Wrighton.

After the conferral of degrees, Wrighton will deliver his message to the Class of 2014.

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