Campus is ready to celebrate

Francis Olympic Field is ready for the 2022 universitywide Commencement ceremony. (Photo: Sid Hastings/Washington University)

Washington University’s 161st Commencement ceremony begins at 9 a.m. today in its new location on Francis Olympic Field.

And for the first time, the universitywide ceremony will be followed by an all-school Commencement festival from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The festival will feature local food and beverages, games, photo opportunities and live entertainment stretching from Mudd Field on the western edge of the Danforth Campus to Tisch Park on the east end.

During the ceremony, the university will bestow academic degrees on approximately 3,800 undergraduate, graduate and professional students in the Class of 2022.

Mae Jemison, MD, the first woman of color to become a NASA astronaut and to travel into space, will deliver the Commencement address and receive an honorary doctor of science degree.

For more on Jemison, visit the Washington University Source.

Honorary degrees also will be awarded to:

  • Brian K. Kobilka, MD, the Hélène Irwin Fagan Chair in Cardiology and a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University School of Medicine and Nobel Prize winner, doctor of science;
  • Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina justice and the third woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, doctor of laws;
  • Andrew C. (Andy) Taylor, executive chairman of Enterprise Holdings Inc., a life trustee and dedicated benefactor at Washington University and a noted civic leader and philanthropist, doctor of humanities; and
  • Barbara Broadhurst Taylor, a longtime supporter of St. Louis’ civic and cultural organizations and advocate for the region’s progress, doctor of humanities.

Sotomayor will not be on campus for the Commencement ceremony. A recording of the justice being presented her honorary degree while she visited the university last month will be shown during the ceremony. She spoke before a crowd of more than 3,000 students, faculty and staff during a question-and-answer session April 5 in the Field House.

Commencement will begin with the academic procession onto Francis Olympic Field, which will be led by grand marshal John Baugh, the Margaret Bush Wilson Professor in Arts & Sciences; honorary grand marshal Rebecca Dresser, the Daniel Noyes Kirby Professor of Law Emerita at the School of Law; Chancellor Andrew D. Martin; and Andrew E. Newman, chair of the Board of Trustees, among others.

Continuing a long-standing tradition of recognizing graduates celebrating their 50th reunion during Commencement, members of the Class of 1972 also will march in the opening procession. They will be joined by members of the classes of 1970 and 1971, who were not able to return to campus for their 50th reunions because of COVID-19.

Kevin K. Wang, a candidate for a bachelor’s degree with a major in political science, a second major in philosophy, in the law and policy track, and a minor in history from the College of Arts & Sciences, will sing “America the Beautiful” to open the ceremony.

Lacy K. Wilder, a candidate for a bachelor’s degree with a major in French from the College of Arts & Sciences and a second major in marketing, with a minor in business of the arts, from Olin Business School, will conclude the ceremony by singing the “Alma Mater.”

Noor Ghanam, a candidate for a bachelor’s degree with a major in biology and a minor in medical humanities and writing from the College of Arts & Sciences, is the undergraduate student speaker. Ghanam, who has lived in cities across the globe, attended high school in Doha, Qatar.

Bryanna Brown, a candidate for a master’s in business administration from Olin Business School, will give the graduate student address. A native of Atlanta, Brown served as graduate student representative to the Board of Trustees.

To read about some of our outstanding graduates who exemplify the best of Washington University, visit our Class Acts feature.

The deans of each of the schools and Beverly R. Wendland, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, will assist Martin in the conferral of academic degrees.

After the conferral of degrees, Martin will deliver his message to the Class of 2022.

Music will be provided by the Washington University Brass Band, which is directed by Christopher Becker, director of the Jazz Band and Wind Ensemble.

Before or after the ceremony, individual schools will hold recognition and award ceremonies, diploma distribution and receptions. Visit the Commencement website for locations.

A live stream of the All-University Commencement Ceremony will be available on the home page of the Commencement website.

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