A scholarly journey ends for the more than 5,200 students who will receive degrees and certificates from the various academic divisions of Johns Hopkins this week. As the university's 127th academic year draws to a close, a new tradition is set to begin as, literally, the sky will be the limit for many graduates. The hope is that it's a sunny one.
Forsaking the big tent used in past years, the 2003 universitywide commencement -- as well as the Homewood undergraduate, Whiting School graduate and SPSBE diploma ceremonies -- will be held on the open-air Homewood Field, located at the northern end of the Homewood campus.
University administration is making the move to the stadium to provide a more "engaging and festive setting" for the ceremonies and to accommodate more guests, as the use of Homewood Field significantly increases the amount of available seating. The stadium will be able to handle up to 9,000 people--tickets are no longer necessary.
In addition to the venue change, the ceremonies will feature a new layout, designed by the Baltimore-based special events-marketing firm P.W. Feats.
Sarah Winkler, vice president and senior producer at P.W. Feats, said that after meeting with university administration, the Office of Special Events and a focus group of student leadership, it became clear that commencement needed to become a more "memorable" and bigger event.
"This is a climactic moment for many people at Johns Hopkins--the families, the students, the faculty. So we all agreed that these ceremonies should reflect the magnitude of the graduates' accomplishments and send them out with a truly great feeling," said Winkler, who is producing the event along with Deborah Pankey-Mebane, the university's director of Special Events.
In the event of rain, ceremonies will go on if possible, and ponchos will be provided by the university. (If it does become necessary to cancel or curtail any of the ceremonies, announcements will be made on the university Web site and on the weather emergency line at 410-516-7781.)
The student seating configuration will incorporate six triangular zones delineated by aisles that meet at a center "crossroads," upon which is rendered a giant Johns Hopkins seal. To enter the seating area, the students will pass through a 40-foot tower displaying images of the Gilman and hospital domes. At the other end will be a stage covered by a Saddlespan concert tent, similar to that of the Sydney Opera House. Flanking the stage will be two towers upon which will hang university seals and 14-by-18-feet projection screens to provide families and guests a close-up view of the proceedings. To add an extra festive touch, the stadium will be dressed up in bunting.
The universitywide ceremony, to be held at 9:15 a.m. on Thursday, May 22, will feature the conferring of all degrees; recognize the new members of the Society of Scholars, who will be inducted on May 21; and bestow honorary degrees upon Michael Bloomberg, Randolph W. Bromery, Claire Fagin, Gordon Moore and Sidney Kimmel (see story, this issue). President William R. Brody will deliver the address.
In addition, the university's eight academic divisions will hold diploma award ceremonies this week featuring keynote speakers selected by each school. Ceremonies also will include the announcement of awards that recognize the contributions and achievements of students and faculty. Among the speakers will be Elias Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health; Andre Previn, the celebrated conductor and composer; and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former chair of the university board of trustees.
Bloomberg, a Johns Hopkins alumnus with a degree in electrical engineering, will address seniors graduating from the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and the Whiting School of Engineering at their joint diploma ceremony at 1:45 p.m. on Thursday, May 22.
The founder of Bloomberg L.P., a worldwide news and financial information company, Bloomberg was elected to the board of trustees in 1987 and served as its chair from 1996 to 2002. In 1998, he completed a $100 million commitment to the university that included gifts to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the libraries and every academic division. In spring 2001, the School of Public Health was renamed the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in recognition of his advocacy and financial support.
The Krieger School's master's diploma award ceremony will feature Barclay Knapp, president and chief executive officer of NTL Inc.
Carlane Blizzard, vice president of Defense Information Systems at Lockheed-Martin Mission Systems, will speak to the gathered graduates at the Whiting School's graduate ceremony, to be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 21, on Homewood Field.
Ralph Smith, senior vice president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, will be the speaker at the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education undergraduate and graduate diploma award ceremony, to be held at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 22, on Homewood Field. Smith previously was a member of the law faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the founding director of the National Center on Fathers and Families and the Philadelphia Children's Network.
The diploma ceremony speaker for the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies will be William J. McDonough, the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The ceremony will be at 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 22, at Constitution Hall, 18th and D streets, N.W., in Washington, D.C.
The School of Medicine will welcome longtime Hopkins faculty member and administrator Elias Zerhouni at its graduation ceremony, to be held at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 22, in the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St.
Since May 2002, Zerhouni has been director of the National Institutes of Health, one of the world's foremost biomedical research centers. Zerhouni joined Hopkins in 1979 as an assistant professor of radiology and was executive vice dean of the School of Medicine from 1997 to 2002. He also chaired the school's Department of Radiology and served as a professor of biomedical engineering.
The School of Public Health's diploma award ceremony will feature Richard Feachem, the inaugural executive director of the new Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The ceremony will be at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 21, at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Prior to his appointment, Feachem served as director of the Institute for Global Health in San Francisco and as a professor of international health at the University of California, San Francisco and Berkeley. From 1995 to 1999, he was director for Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank.
The speaker for the School of Nursing graduation ceremony, to be held at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 22, in Turner Auditorium at the School of Medicine, will be honorary degree recipient Claire Fagin, dean emeritus of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Nursing. Fagin is currently director of the John A. Hartford Foundation national program Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity. Known for innovation in the nursing field, she has been a professor, author, administrator, researcher and lecturer. Fagin served as Penn's School of Nursing dean from 1977 to 1992. In 1991, she became the school's interim president, making her the first woman president of an Ivy League university. The recipient of many prestigious awards and honors, Fagin was named a "Living Legend" by the American Academy of Nursing in 1998.
Conductor, composer and pianist Andre Previn will address the Peabody Conservatory graduates. The ceremony will be held at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 22, in the Mount Vernon United Methodist Church on Mount Vernon Place.
During the ceremony, Previn will receive the George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Music in America. Previn joins a list of distinguished previous recipients that includes Leonard Bernstein, Ella Fitzgerald, Philip Glass, Benny Goodman, Marilyn Horne and Isaac Stern. Recently, Previn began a four-year term as music director of the Oslo Philharmonic. He previously held the chief artistic posts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, London Symphony and Houston Symphony orchestras. His many honors include the Cross of Merit from both Austria and Germany, a Kennedy Center Honor for Lifetime Achievement, multiple Grammy Awards and a British knighthood bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II.