With their family and friends there to watch the culmination of their academic careers at Franklin & Marshall College, students in the Class of 2017 will march in cap and gown to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” at Commencement May 13.
President Daniel R. Porterfield will greet each of F&M’s 573 seniors on stage to confer upon them bachelor of arts degrees and other honors that recognize their levels of academic achievement.
The Commencement ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. in the College's Alumni Sports & Fitness Center on the north side of Harrisburg Avenue.
"Whatever the weather, nothing ever dampens the spirit of that special day for the graduates and their families," said Debbie Martin '72, director of protocol and events and associate secretary of the College.
Wanda Austin, an aerospace industry leader who was among the first African-Americans to graduate from F&M, will deliver the Commencement address. Until last year, Austin, a 1975 mathematics graduate, was president and CEO of California-based Aerospace Corp., a worldwide organization of more than 4,000 employees. She established an international reputation for her work in satellite and payload system acquisition, systems engineering and system simulation.
For her work as a leader in efforts to attract more women and minorities to careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Austin and Aerospace launched a four-year scholarship in her name. It is awarded each year to a promising student from a Title 1 high school in the Los Angeles area.
An adviser to President Barack Obama and the White House on science and technology matters, Austin is a recipient of numerous awards, including the National Intelligence Medallion for Meritorious Service and a 2012 honorary degree from Franklin & Marshall.
Receiving honorary degrees from the College will be Donald Graham, former publisher of The Washington Post, and Evelyn Farkas ’89, who served from 2010 to 2015 as the Pentagon's top official overseeing military relations with Russia and Ukraine.
Graham co-founded TheDream.Us for students who qualify under the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAMers), a national scholarship program launched in 2014 that has served more than 1,700 students.
Farkas, as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Obama administration, advised three secretaries of defense on Russia and 13 other countries from the Black Sea, Caucasus and Balkan regions.
Other graduation weekend activities include a picnic lunch May 12 for seniors and their families on Sponaugle-Williamson Field, where the following day at noon, just after Commencement, members of the Class of 2017 are invited for refreshments to celebrate their time at F&M with family, friends, alumni and faculty
Seating is limited, and priority will be given to families of the graduates. The ceremony will be streamed live online. The viewing location on campus is the Bonchek Lecture Hall in the Ann and Richard Barshinger Life Sciences & Philosophy Building, Room 142 . The space is air-conditioned and handicapped accessible.