With a newly revamped Commencement Hollow providing a beautiful backdrop, a new era will begin at Wittenberg on Saturday, May 12, when the university holds its 162nd Commencement exercises. Guests will marvel at the new design as they celebrate scholarship with the 414 degree candidates slated to cross the stage.
It has been five years since Commencement took place in its fabled location near the south entrance to campus, but there is more activity than ever in the hollow as the metal bleachers atop the hill have been replaced with an attractively terraced seating area. The temporary stage in the valley below, normally erected the week prior to Commencement, has been replaced by a permanent brick stage structure that will ensure a memorable graduation day experience for the graduating seniors – provided that Mother Nature cooperates.
The Myers Hall bell will toll at 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and again at noon on Saturday to notify the campus that the ceremony will be held in its intended outdoor location at its scheduled time of 2 p.m. If the bell does not ring, that will be a signal that the ceremony will be held in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) Center, with the doors scheduled to open at noon. Guests should be seated at either venue no later than 1 p.m.
Special parking and seating have been arranged for physically disabled guests. For Commencement exercises held outdoors, physically disabled guests may enter campus before noon through the drive on North Plum Street. A Wittenberg security officer will be at the driveway entrance to give instructions for parking and seating. In the event the exercises are held indoors, physically disabled guests may be dropped off in front of the HPER Center. Because of limited space in the HPER Center, seating is at a premium, so disabled guests may be seated with only one friend or family member.
Should the ceremony be held indoors, a video broadcast will be transmitted to Hollenbeck Hall. Guests without tickets are welcomed and encouraged to view the ceremony in classrooms throughout the building, including the Ness Family Auditorium.
The 2007 Commencement speaker is award-winning journalist and author Juan Williams, who will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters at the ceremony. Williams won several journalism awards for his writing and investigative reporting during a 21-year career as an editorial writer, op-ed columnist and White House correspondent for The Washington Post. He moved into other media forms later in his career as host of the popular National Public Radio (NPR) afternoon talk show, Talk of The Nation, and he currently serves as senior correspondent for NPR's Morning Edition and as host ofAmerica's Black Forum, a nationally syndicated weekly news program.
Williams has authored six books, including the 2006 release of Enough – The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America – and What We Can Do About It, which created a national furor and ignited debate with his analysis of black leadership in the United States. In addition, Williams was the recipient of an Emmy Award for television documentary writing and received acclaim for a series of documentaries, including Politics – The New Black Power and A. Phillip Randolph: For Jobs and Freedom.
Those scheduled for recognition during the Commencement ceremony include 23 "non-traditional" students from the School of Community Education. The graduates hail from 27 states and eight countries outside of the United States. Undergraduate degrees to be awarded are Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Music Education, in addition to two Master's degrees.