May 24, 2010

Academic year comes to a close

The academic year culminates this week with a big JHU bash and a new tradition.

In an effort to promote a more unified Johns Hopkins family, the university has fused the universitywide commencement ceremony with the Homewood undergraduate diploma ceremony for one grand graduation observance. The result will be a single ceremony for graduates from all divisions and campuses.

The event will take place rain or shine from 8:40 a.m. to roughly noon on Thursday, May 27, on Homewood Field. The stadium holds 9,000 people—no tickets necessary.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former chair of the university’s board of trustees, will be this year’s commencement speaker.

The majority of students will receive their diplomas following the event; others will receive them at separate diploma ceremonies at their respective schools.

For the past several decades, a universitywide morning commencement ceremony has formed the centerpiece for the week’s various ceremonies that formally conclude JHU’s academic year. The Homewood undergraduate diploma ceremony, which had its own guest speaker, was held in the afternoon in the same location. Although the undergraduates had the option of attending the morning ceremony, the majority did not since they would receive their diplomas later that day.

The new single ceremony will feature remarks from President Ronald J. Daniels and a full speech by Bloomberg, the conferring of all degrees, recognition of new members of the Society of Scholars and the bestowing of honorary degrees.

Honorary degrees will be awarded on stage to Michael M.E. Johns, chancellor

of Emory University and former dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a vice president of the university from 1990 to 1996; Benoit B. Mandelbrot, the Sterling Professor Emeritus of Mathematical Sciences at Yale University, who is best known as the founder of fractal geometry; Douglas W. Nelson, who recently retired as president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and who helped foster the East Baltimore Development Initiative; Ellen Ochoa, deputy director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston and the first Hispanic-American woman in space; Marilyn Ames Pedersen, founding member and currently executive committee member of CharityWorks, a high-impact philanthropic organization dedicated to creating positive change by uniting corporate leaders; and Elias A. Zerhouni, who spent much of his career at Johns Hopkins, where he developed imaging methods to diagnose and treat cancer and cardiovascular, pulmonary and other diseases, before leading the National Institutes of Health from 2002 to 2008. He is currently senior adviser to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

All undergraduate and doctoral students in attendance will have their names announced as they file on stage to have their degrees recognized. The ceremony will also feature a presentation of the Homewood Schools’ senior class gift, an address from their class president and some pomp and circumstance, including music and the procession of graduates onto the field.

The student and teaching awards typically announced at the Homewood undergraduate ceremony were presented at a banquet held earlier in the spring. The awards will be noted in the commencement program.

Prior to the ceremony, the undergraduates from the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and the Whiting School of Engineering will gather on the Keyser Quadrangle and take a ceremonial “final walk” through campus, passing through the Freshman Quad, where their academic journey started. All other graduates will enter from the Athletic Center.

Following the ceremony, the newly minted alumni and their families will be invited to a reception on the Keyser Quadrangle.

The student-seating configuration will now be in straight rows rather than triangular zones, and the field will include more chairs for guests, including additional handicapped-accessible seating.

Mayor Bloomberg was invited by the senior class to be the speaker at this ceremony. Elected to office just two months after the tragic attacks of 9/11, Bloomberg is the 108th mayor of New York, where he is now serving his third term.

Born in Boston, he was taught at an early age the values of hard work and civic responsibility. He attended Johns Hopkins, where he paid his tuition by taking loans and working as a parking lot attendant during the summer. After graduating in 1964, he went on to receive an MBA from Harvard Business School. In 1966, he was hired by Salomon Brothers to work on Wall Street.

Bloomberg quickly rose through the ranks at Salomon, where he eventually oversaw equity trading and sales and then information systems. In 1981, he began a small start-up company called Bloomberg LP, whose financial news and information services today have more than 275,000 subscribers in 161 countries. Headquartered in New York City, the company has more than 10,000 employees worldwide.

He has sat on the boards of numerous charitable, cultural and educational institutions, including Johns Hopkins, where he served as chairman of the board from 1996 to 2002. The School of Public Health was renamed the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2001 in honor of his financial support and commitment to the school and university.

The Bloomberg School of Public Health’s speaker will be acclaimed journalist and author T.R. Reid. Through his wide array of work with The Washington Post, National Geographic, National Public Radio and PBS, Reid has become one of the nation’s best-known news correspondents. His insightful reporting on health care in the United States and throughout the world resulted in two PBS Frontline documentaries, A Second Opinion and Sick Around the World, and his best-selling book, The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care. The ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May 26, in Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.

Lynn Laverty Elsenhans—chairman, CEO, president and director of Sunoco—will speak at the Whiting School of Engineering’s graduate ceremony, to be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 26, on Homewood Field. An experienced oil industry executive, Elsenhans previously served as executive vice president of global manufacturing at Shell Downstream.

For its diploma award ceremony, the School of Medicine will welcome Ezekiel J. Emanuel, head of the Department of Bioethics at the Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health. Emanuel is also the special adviser for health policy to the White House Office of Management and Budget. The ceremony will be at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 27, in Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.

Neville E. Strumpf, a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, will be the speaker for the School of Nursing ceremony, to be held at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 27, in the Hippodrome Theatre. Strumpf has advanced research, education and practice in gerontological care by focusing on the vexing clinical problems of frail elders and testing interventions aimed at improving outcomes of care. Her program of research focuses on individualized care for frail older adults, regardless of setting or circumstance.

Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup, will be the speaker at the Carey Business School graduate diploma award ceremony, to be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 24, in Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Pandit’s prior roles include chairman and CEO of Citi’s Institutional Clients Group, and president and chief operating officer of Morgan Stanley’s institutional securities and investment banking business.

The diploma ceremony speaker for SAIS will be John J. Hamre, president and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies since January 2000. The event will be held at 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 27, at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Hamre previously served as the 26th deputy secretary of defense and as undersecretary of defense (comptroller), and was a professional staff member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Hamre received his PhD, with distinction, in 1978 from SAIS, where his studies focused on international politics and economics and U.S. foreign policy.

Diane Ravitch, a research professor of education at New York University and a best-selling author, will speak at the School of Education undergraduate and graduate diploma award ceremony. It will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 27, on Homewood Field. Among her career appointments, Ravitch was assistant secretary of education and counselor to Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander in the administration of President George H.W. Bush from 1991 to 1993, leading the federal effort to promote the creation of voluntary state and national academic standards, and from 1997 to 2004, she was a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the federal testing program. She is also a historian of education and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

The Peabody Conservatory diploma award ceremony speaker will be composer Libby Larsen, who will receive the 2010 George Peabody Medal at the ceremony. Inaugurated in 1981, the Peabody Institute’s highest award honors individuals who have made exceptional contributions to music in America.

Larsen is one of America’s most-performed living composers, with a catalog of more than 400 works spanning virtually every genre from intimate vocal and chamber music to massive orchestral works and more than 15 operas. In 1973, Larsen co-founded the Minnesota Composers Forum, now the American Composer’s Forum, which has become an invaluable aid for composers in a transitional time for American arts.

The ceremony will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 27, in Peabody’s Friedberg Hall.

The Krieger School of Arts and Sciences’ master’s diploma award ceremony will feature Mary Jo Salter, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and director of graduate studies in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins. Salter is the author of six books of poetry, mostly recently A Phone Call to the Future (2008). She became a full-time member of the Writing Seminars faculty in 2007, after 23 years of teaching at Mount Holyoke College. The ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 28, on Homewood Field.

For more information, updates and announcements concerning Commencement 2010, go to The site will be updated regularly.