The Columns

Washington and Lee University to Celebrate 229th Commencement, Baccalaureate

— by on May 23rd, 2016

Washington and Lee University celebrates its 229th undergraduate commencement Thursday, May 26, when it will award bachelor’s degrees to more than 440 students.

University President Kenneth P. Ruscio will address the graduates at the 10 a.m. ceremony on the Front Lawn of the main campus. Lauren R. Howard, Class of 2016 representative to the Executive Committee of the Student Body and a graduating senior from South Glastonbury, Connecticut, will speak on behalf of the Class of 2016.

Commencement festivities begin Wednesday, May 25, at 10 a.m. on the Front Lawn with the traditional baccalaureate service, featuring speaker Elizabeth P. Knapp. Knapp is Washington and Lee’s associate provost, the director of the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity, and a professor of geology. She chairs the Special Working Group on the History of African Americans at W&L, the University Sustainability Committee, and the Community Engagement and Service Learning Advisory Committee, and is co-chair of the University Committee on Inclusiveness and Campus Climate.

Knapp previously served as the senior assistant to the president and as the associate dean of the College. She has been on the faculty at W&L since 1997, teaching geochemistry and hydrogeology. Knapp received her bachelor of science in geology from Washington and Lee and a Ph.D. in environmental sciences from the University of Virginia, and was recently inducted as an honorary member of Omicron Delta Kappa.

Also speaking at the baccalaureate service are this year’s recipients of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, Paqui Toscano of Kettering, Ohio, and Tierney Wolgemuth of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania. Toscano and Wolgemuth were selected by the faculty as individuals who best demonstrate high ideals of living, spiritual qualities and generous service to others.

During the commencement ceremony on Thursday, W&L will recognize 28 retiring members of the faculty and staff, who represent a total of 670 years of service. The University will also award an honorary doctor of humane letters degree to Dr. Robert C. Vaughan III, president and founding director of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and a 1966 Washington and Lee graduate.

Three graduating seniors have been awarded Fulbright Grants for postgraduate international work.

Four other seniors also received scholarships for postgraduate international work.

The Class of 2016 hails from 43 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and 12 other countries.

In the event of rain, events will be held at Virginia Military Institute’s Cameron Hall, and the University community will be notified by broadcast e-mail, a notice on the University’s website and other means. Full details on all commencement activities at W&L can be found at The commencement ceremony will be streamed live online at