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Watch Online: Bowdoin to Honor Class of 2016 at 211th Commencement May 28 Archives

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Bowdoin will hold its 211th Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 28, 2016, and confer bachelor of arts degrees on the Class of 2016.

President Clayton S. Rose will preside over Commencement and award degrees on the terrace of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art on the Quad.

In the event of very severe weather, Commencement will be held in Sidney J. Watson Arena.

Of the approximately 460 graduates, 52 are from Maine.

Thirty-nine states, the District of Columbia and Guam are represented, including Massachusetts with 78 students, New York with 57, California with 28, and Connecticut and New Jersey both with 23.

Twenty-nine graduates are international students, representing 14 countries and territories.

Commencement Weekend Speakers

Since 1806, Bowdoin has given the honor of speaking at commencement to graduating seniors. Until 1877 every graduate had a speaking part.

The custom of selecting student commencement speakers through competition began in the 1880s.

Past speakers have included poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1825, House Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed 1860, Arctic explorer Robert E. Peary 1877 and biologist and researcher Alfred Kinsey ’16.

Rachel Snyder ’16 and Bill De La Rosa ’16 are this year’s Commencement speakers.

Honorary Degree Recipient Talks and Baccalaureate
Honorand 2016 feat amended

While the honorary degree recipients will not give speeches at the Commencement ceremony, they will participate in a variety of talks scheduled May 26-27.

Dorothea Rockburne will present a talk at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 26, in Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center.

Frank Shorter will give a talk at 2:30 p.m., Friday, May 27, in Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center.

Darren Walker will deliver the keynote address at the Baccalaureate ceremony, beginning at 4:30 p.m., Friday, May 27, in Sidney J. Watson Arena.

The Rev. Robert E. Ives ’69, Bowdoin’s Director of Religious and Spiritual Life, will deliver the invocation.

During Commencement, Bowdoin will award honorary doctorates to abstract artist Dorothea Rockburne; Olympic gold medalist Frank C. Shorter; Trustee emeritus Peter M. Small ’64, P’97, P’99; and Ford Foundation President Darren Walker.

Commencement History

Bowdoin College was chartered in 1794, and held its first commencement ceremony in 1806 in the second meetinghouse of First Parish Church across the street from the College.

There were seven graduates in the Class of 1806.

The following year saw the smallest graduating class in the College’s history, with just three members in the Class of 1807.

The best-known class was the Class of 1825. In addition to Longfellow, the class included writer Nathaniel Hawthorne.

In 1875, on the day before commencement at the 50th reunion of the class, Longfellow recited his poem “Morituri Salutamus,” an elegiac reflection on youth and age.

Other notable Bowdoin graduates include President Franklin Pierce 1824, African-American newspaper editor John Brown Russwurm 1826, Civil War hero Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain 1852, former U.S. Senator and architect of the Ireland peace accord George Mitchell ’54 and former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen ’62.