Mary Baldwin University will hold its 174th Commencement exercises at 10 a.m. May 22 on the Barbara Kares Page Terrace. The keynote speaker is entrepreneur and painted-glass mogul Tracy “Lolita” Burks Healy.
In the event of bad weather, the ceremony will be moved to 10:30 a.m. at Cameron Hall at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington.The decision will be made by 6 a.m. Sunday. Call 540-887-7378 for a recorded message.
Here are 10 things you should know about the big event:
1. This year 344 students will graduate from Mary Baldwin. Graduates include 138 in the Residential College for Women, 134 in the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs and 72 students in Mary Baldwin’s graduate programs (47 in the Graduate Teacher Education program and 25 in the Shakespeare and Performance program).*
2. The theme for the Class of 2016, chosen for their freshman year, is “Discover Your Place,” and the class colors are purple and gold.
3. There is a mother-daughter duo graduating on Sunday. Tracey and Kelli Fix of Stuarts Draft will both receive their BA in liberal arts and educational studies.
4. Commencement speaker Tracy “Lolita” Burks Healy ’87 is most famously known for her brand, Lolita, which she started in 2001 at her kitchen table. Using her love of art and design and her aptitude for creative marketing (which was inspired by many wonderful classes at Mary Baldwin), she created a brand that now, after 15 years in business, resonates across the world. She has more than 50 trademarks in various countries and more than 2,000 copyrights.
5. The oldest graduate from the class of 2016 is Baldwin Online and Adult Programs student Faith Bedford, 71. The youngest is Cassandra Bumford, 17, who is enrolled in Mary Baldwin’s Program for the Exceptionally Gifted.
6. With a nod to their freshman year theme, the senior class is giving to the college a 30-inch diameter bronze compass inscribed with the Mary Baldwin seal to be permanently placed in the center of Tyson Terrace. Senior class officers will unveil the compass in front of the Administration Building on Friday during the annual decorating of Ham and Jam, and the gift will remain on the front lawn for people to stop and take pictures for the remainder of the weekend.
7. Alumna Kellie Warner ’90 will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters. In addition to her role as business operations executive for Bank of America in Charlotte, Warner has contributed greatly to her alma mater, including serving on both the Board of Trustees and the Alumnae/i Association Board of Directors.
8. Mary Baldwin University will posthumously give the Algernon Sydney Sullivan (non-student) Award to Rita Wilson ’82, who passed away last month. The first African-American councilwoman in Staunton, Wilson also engaged often with Mary Baldwin through the years, serving on the Advisory Board of Visitors, attending events, participating in panel discussions, and supporting Mary Baldwin in a number of other ways.
9. The ceremony will be streamed online at go.marybaldwin.edu/live for those who cannot attend. The live stream will also be available for viewing inside James D. Francis Auditorium.
10. This is the last Commencement for Mary Baldwin University. The institution will change its name to Mary Baldwin University on August 31. It is also the last Commencement that will not include graduating classes from the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences.
Full schedule and more information about events all weekend long is available online.
*Numbers as of May 18