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Gearing Up for Commencement

by Melissa Payton

Kimberley Wolter and Matthew Skiena earned B.A.s from the USC School of Theatre at last year’s commencement ceremony. With them at right is Martin Fusi, an assistant professor in the school.

Photo by Inga Kiderra

On Friday, May 10, 25,000 USC students, faculty and proud family members will hear Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author David Halberstam deliver the university’s 119th commencement address.

Earlier that morning, President Steven B. Sample will confer 4,381 bachelor’s degrees, 3,265 master’s degrees and 1,151 doctorates. The more than 8,500 expected graduates include students finishing course work during the upcoming summer sessions, as well as those who completed their programs during the 2001-02 academic year.

The processional march into Alumni Memorial Park will begin at 8:30 a.m., followed by the commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Rabbi Susan Laemmle, dean of religious life, will deliver the invocation.

Receiving honorary doctorates at the ceremony will be Robert Day, chair of the W. M. Keck Foundation, which contributed $110 million to USC in 1999 to rename its medical school; retired Gen. William Lyon, a leading home builder and veteran of two wars; Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest in the country; and the Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray, pastor of Los Angeles’ First African Methodist Episcopal Church and a prominent voice for the city’s disadvantaged residents.

Valedictorian Stanley Chou, a pre-med student who will earn degrees in biomedical engineering and psychology, will also speak at the ceremony.

Speakers at individual schools’ satellite ceremonies following the main ceremony will include such luminaries as Academy Award-winning director and USC alumnus Ron Howard (cinema), actress Annette Bening (theater) and producer and director Henry Winkler (social work).

Other well-known speakers will be developer and USC trustee Alan Casden (accounting), U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin (biokinesiology and physical therapy), MGM Mirage CEO J. Terrence Lanni (undergraduate business), Deborah Borda, managing director, Los Angeles Philharmonic (music) and NPR correspondent Linda Wertheimer (journalism).

New this year will be official honor cords that graduation seniors who are eligible for academic honors – summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude – can wear at commencement.

“Rather than have so many different honor societies with their own cords, which has happened in past years, we thought it would be a good notion to have a university honor cord,” said University Marshal John Callaghan, directing his 10th USC commencement (see accompanying story). The idea has been so well supported that nearly all academic units have purchased the cords for their students, he said.

For the third year, two full days of pre-commencement events are scheduled, from the Phi Kappa Phi Initiation Ceremony on Wednesday, May 8, to the separate African-American and Latino student ceremonies at 8 p.m. Thursday.

For the second year,the Senior and Graduate Student Recognition Awards Ceremony will be at 1 p.m. Thursday in Bovard Auditorium.

The Thursday, May 9, baccalaureate ceremony will start at 5 p.m. with featured speaker Elder Henry B. Eyring, commissioner of education of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The baccalaureate ceremony will be followed by a dinner for students and parents that easily filled its 1,200 reservation slots, Callaghan said.

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