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Commencement Set for May 20
May 11, 2006

Calvin College will celebrate Commencement on Saturday, May 20 at 2 pm in its Fieldhouse. Commencement 2006 marks the 86th such conferring of four-year degrees in Calvin's 130-year history.

This year's ceremony will feature a graduating class of approximately 900 students, women and men representing 37 states and 22 countries. Calvin awarded its first bachelor's degrees in 1921 to a senior class of eight men.

Calvin College's 2006 Commencement speaker has been awarded a singular honor. Nicholas Wolterstorff will address the Calvin class of 2006 as a newly minted member of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The 2006 Fellows include not only Wolterstorff, a 1953 graduate of Calvin, but also such luminaries as former Presidents George H.W. Bush and William Jefferson Clinton, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and a multitude of leading scientists and scholars from across the nation.

Founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock and other scholar-patriots, the Academy has elected as Fellows and Foreign Honorary Members the finest minds and most influential leaders from each generation, including George Washington and Ben Franklin in the 18th century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the 20th.

The current membership includes more than 170 Nobel laureates and 50 Pulitzer Prize winners.

The 2006 Commencement speaker will be former Calvin and Yale professor Nicholas Wolterstorff.

Calvin's 2006 Commencement Ceremony also will be marked by the presentation of Calvin's highest alumni honor -- the Distinguished Alumni Award -- to Gerald Gabrielse, a 1973 Calvin graduate who is the George Vasmer Leverett professor of physics at Harvard University, and an internationally known atomic physicist, and Charles Spoelhof, a 1951 Calvin graduate and a retired engineer from the Eastman Kodak Company who during the height of the Cold War was part of a small group of experts that helped develop the highly sophisticated camera technology used in spy satellites, and later served on the blue ribbon commission to fix the Hubble Space Telescope.

And a number of Calvin professors, plus two administrators, will mark their final Commencements as they move from Calvin into retirement. On the administrative side, Joy De Boer Anema is leaving Calvin after a long career in student life and the registrar's office, while Barbara Omolade is leaving a post as dean for multicultural affairs.

On the faculty side Barbara Carvill, Robert De Vries, George Monsma, Jr., Arden Post, Yvonne Van Ee, Ronald Wells and Charles Young III are retiring. Those seven retirees have a combined 200 years of service to Calvin, led by 37-year tenures for Monsma and Wells, followed closely by 35 years for DeVries and 29 for Carvill.

Commencement weekend actually begins on Thursday, May 18 with the department of nursing pinning ceremony from 8 pm to 9 pm in the Fine Arts Center.

Rehearsal happens on Friday, May 19 from 3:30 to 4:30 pm in the Calvin Fieldhouse followed by a 5 pm worship service for grads and their families in the Calvin Chapel and then a 5:30 to 7 pm cookout on the Commons lawn.

Other events on Friday, May 19 include a 2006 bachelor of arts exhibition and reception in the college art gallery, a reception for international graduates and their parents in the Prince Conference Center and a teacher commissioning ceremony in the Fine Arts Center Auditorium.

Commencement day begins on Saturday, May 20 with the senior brunch from 10 to 11:45 am in the Commons Dining Hall followed by Commencement at 2 pm in the Calvin Fieldhouse and then various department receptions at 3:30 pm on the Commons Lawn.

Interestingly several changes enacted last year by necessity, when the Commencement speaker was U.S. President George W. Bush, have carried over to this year, including the 2 pm start time for Commencement, the Friday rehearsal and a later Saturday senior breakfast (now called brunch).

Commencement committee co-chair Darlene Meyering says last year the committee polled members of the community, including graduates, to glean the reactions to the earlier start time for the ceremony and there was an overwhelmingly positive response. In addition feedback to the Friday rehearsal and a later start to senior breakfast was also positive.