Celebrating our graduates

On May 20, Washington University celebrated more than 2,500 graduates at the first university-wide Commencement event held on Francis Olympic Field.

Chancellor Andrew D. Martin and Commencement Grand Marshal John Baugh, the Margaret Bush Wilson Professor in Arts & Sciences, walk in the recessional of the 161st Commencement ceremony. (Photo: Joe Angeles/Washington University)

Greetings from Washington University! Summer has arrived, and with it, a more relaxed pace of life and work on the Danforth Campus for many of our community members. But that certainly wasn’t the case a month ago, when all corners of the university were abuzz with preparations for our largest Commencement ceremony in WashU history.  

On May 20, more than 2,500 graduates donned their green regalia and celebrated their accomplishments alongside their 12,000 biggest fans at our first university-wide Commencement event held on Francis Olympic Field. There, they heard encouraging words from their peer speakers and an address from Mae Jemison, a doctor, engineer, astronaut and the first Black woman to travel to space. Jemison inspired us all to remember that we’re “part of nature, not outside it,” and to act boldly to protect the Earth, our common home.

Once their degrees were conferred and their caps were tossed, the newest WashU alumni recessed all the way from Francis Olympic Field to the beautiful Tisch Park on the east end of campus for our first-ever Commencement Festival, an extravaganza of music, food and fun worthy of this special class of students.

Commencement — and all the work that goes into it — is truly a labor of love. I am proud of our best-in-class planning team and the army of staff volunteers who show up purely for the joy of serving and celebrating our graduates. Our students are a constant source of hope and inspiration, and we never take for granted how privileged we are to be trusted with their education.

Friends of Washington University, please look out for the Class of 2022. They are both brilliant and resilient. They are fierce and focused. And they have made us all so proud.

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