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Headlines at Hopkins
Commencement 1999


There are really three parts to The Johns Hopkins University graduation ceremonies:

  • the university-wide commencement
  • the Undergraduate Diploma Ceremony
  • the master's degree diploma ceremonies held by each of the eight academic schools
The university-wide ceremony takes place at 9:30 a.m. on the Keyser Quadrangle, which most folks around here call simply the upper quad. It is held under a huge tent, which seats the graduates and parents, family and friends. There also is guest seating outside the tent. Speakers outside the tent amplify the activities on the stage. The university decided on this arrangement years ago because there is no indoor facility on campus to hold the number of graduates and guests that come to this ceremony. Because it is unreasonable to hold off such a large event in case of inclement weather, it was decided years ago to always stage the event under cover.

This is the ceremony at which all university degrees are conferred by the university president. The students who receive their diplomas on stage, however, are doctoral recipients from the university's Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the G.W.C Whiting School of Engineering, the School of Continuing Studies, the School of Public Health, the School of Nursing, the School of Medicine (PhD.s only), Peabody Institute and the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. This ceremony also recognizes the new members of the Society of Scholars and is the occasion at which the university confers honorary degrees of doctor of humane letters.

It has become a tradition that the university president delivers the commencement speech at this ceremony, and you can find President William R. Brody's 1998 speech online at www.jhu.edu/~president/speech/comm98.html.

The Undergraduate Diploma Ceremony is the one at which the seniors from the schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering, who officially graduated when degrees were conferred in the morning ceremony, cross the stage to receive their diplomas. It is also held under the tent on Gilman Quad, starting at 2:30 p.m. This ceremony features a speaker chosen by the senior class and is the occasion when the senior class gives out its many awards, recognizing peers, faculty and staff for their contributions and achievements.

At these two ceremonies there is a "camera pen" from which guests can take pictures of their graduates as they cross the stage. There is some access to the graduates up and down the aisles prior to the start of the ceremonies, but no one is allowed in the graduate seating area once the ceremony has begun.

The Master's Diploma Award Ceremonies are held at various locations at the university in the evening (either the day before or the day of commencement) by each academic school. They each choose their own speaker and carry on their own traditions.

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