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Alumni Return to Campus for CMU’s Largest Commencement Weekend – News

May 11, 2022

When Carnegie Mellon University celebrates its 124th Commencement exercises, it won’t just be the members of the class of 2022 in Gesling Stadium and other venues May 13-15. Graduates from the 2021 and 2020 classes also will commemorate their degrees in person with family and friends.

“The historic scale of this year’s Commencement is equaled only by our community’s anticipation to return to this cherished tradition in person,” said CMU President Farnam Jahanian. “We look forward to celebrating the achievements of three classes of Tartans with all of the pomp and circumstance our graduates deserve.”

Provost and Chief Academic Officer James H. Garrett, Jr. said that the world has changed since the three classes began their CMU journeys.

“While college is a life-changing experience, the world itself changed from the time these three classes began their studies to today,” Garrett said. “Everyone is proud of what these learners and scholars have accomplished under extraordinary circumstances.”

More than 25,000 people are expected to be on campus during Commencement Weekend. Nearly 3,100 students and alumni have registered to participate in the graduate student ceremony on Friday, and more than 2,200 undergraduates and alumni have registered for Sunday’s in-person commencement.

Sarah Penfield will be at both ceremonies with her family.

“I feel like it’ll be a sense of closure on my time at CMU,” said Penfield who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics in 2020 and a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering in December of 2021. She now works as an Environmental engineer in Washington State’s Department of Ecology. “I have other friends who are returning, and the reunion that we are going to get will be very exciting.”

Penfield was a senior when CMU transitioned to remote instruction. One of the things she said she missed the most during that time was playing clarinet in the Kiltie Band.

“It was really tough. We missed out on a lot of the typical senior things you’re excited about like carnival and graduation and other celebrations,” she said. “Some of those experiences were cut because of the pandemic, but I was really glad we got to play one more spring performance with Paul Gerlach [founding director of the Kiltie Band] before he retired. I’m hoping I can see him again at the ceremony, if he’s there.”

The past two years CMU has held subdued Commencement exercises because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, only student participants were allowed in-person while in 2020, the university hosted an online program to confer degrees that included a sendoff from more than a dozen acclaimed alumni.

On Friday, May 13, doctoral and master’s degree graduates and candidates from all three classes will gather for a full commencement ceremony in Gesling Stadium. Vijay Adipudi, who is graduating with an MBA from the Tepper School of Business, will be the student speaker. Portugal’s Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education Manuel Heitor, who will receive a Doctor of Science and Technology degree, will deliver the keynote address.

On Saturday, May 14, a hooding ceremony for doctoral graduates and candidates will occur in Gesling Stadium. Chemistry Nobel Laureate Frances Arnold, who will receive a Doctor of Science and Technology degree, will deliver the keynote address.

On Sunday, May 15, bachelor’s degree graduates and candidates from all three classes will come together for a full commencement ceremony in Gesling Stadium. Lisa Oguike, who is graduating with bachelor’s of science degrees in engineering and public policy and international relations and politics with a minor in cybersecurity and international conflict, will be the student speaker. CMU alumnus Billy Porter will receive a Doctor of Fine Arts degree and deliver the keynote address. Porter is an Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award-winning actor, singer, director, composer, author and playwright.

For those not able to attend in person all three ceremonies will be available by livestream.

Department diploma ceremonies will be conducted in person for the first time in three years.


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