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W&L Celebrates 226th Undergraduate Commencement on May 23

Washington and Lee University celebrates its 226th undergraduate commencement on Thursday, May 23, awarding bachelor’s degrees to slightly more than 400 members of the Class of 2013.

The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. on the historic Front Lawn in front of Lee Chapel. Washington and Lee’s Robert A. Strong, interim provost and the William Lyne Wilson Professor of Politics, will present the principal commencement address to the graduates.

Strong has served as interim provost for the past two years. A 1970 graduate of Kenyon College, he holds a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He joined the W&L faculty in 1989 as head of the Department of Politics. He conducts research on the presidency and American foreign policy. Prior to being named interim provost, he had been associate provost since 2008. He recently received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant to serve as the Mary Ball Washington Professor of American History at University College Dublin during the 2013–14 academic year.

Steele Burrow, who served as the 2012-13 president of the Executive Committee of the student body, will deliver remarks on behalf of his classmates. Burrow is a politics major from Dallas, Texas.

The commencement activities will begin on Wednesday, May 22, with the traditional baccalaureate service, also held on the Front Lawn, at 10 a.m.

Harlan Beckley, director of the Shepherd Poverty Program and the Fletcher Otey Thomas Professor of Religion, will be the baccalaureate speaker.

Beckley has taught in the Department of Religion at W&L since 1974. In 1997, he helped to create and design the Shepherd Program and became its first director. He now directs the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty, which comprises about 20 colleges and universities that have developed poverty programs. A graduate of the University of Illinois in economics, Beckley received a Ph.D. in Christian theological ethics from Vanderbilt University.

In the event of rain, the events will take place in Cameron Hall at Virginia Military Institute.

During the commencement ceremony, the University will recognize five retiring members of the faculty: Bruce Boller, visiting professor of physics; Robert J. deMaria, professor of journalism and mass communications; J. Holt Merchant, the Martin and Brooke Stein Professor of History; Michael Pleva, the Robert Lee Telford Endowed Professor of Chemistry; and Vaughan Stanley, associate professor and director of Special Collections in Leyburn Library. Those five have served the University for a total of 173 years.

Among this year’s seniors will be a record 21 who are receiving both a bachelor of science and a bachelor of arts. In addition, 31.8 percent of the class will have completed more than one major, and one student will have completed three majors. In the fourth year of students graduating with minors, two students will have, for the first time, completed two majors and two minors. The graduates represent 38 states plus the District of Columbia and 14 countries.

Among this year’s outstanding graduates are students receiving special honors and highly competitive scholarships.

Six students have won awards through the prestigious Fulbright Program for postgraduate study or teaching abroad: Derek Arthur George Barisas (Iceland), Kendré S. Barnes (Panama), Max Laitman Chapnick (New Zealand), Bethany Anne Reynolds (China), Rachel Lynn Urban (Bangladesh) and Isaac Daniel Webb (Ukraine).

Mikel Dylan Wilner won a Venture for America Fellowship, which provides two years of work and mentoring as an entrepreneur with American start-up companies.

Details on all activities are available on the Commencement website. Commencement exercises will be streamed live on the web at http://new.livestream.com/wlu/ugrad-2013.

News Contact:
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
(540) 458-8459