Thirteen Things You Should Know about Commencement 2017

May 18, 2017

Mary Baldwin University will hold its 175th Commencement exercises at 10 a.m. May 21 on the Barbara Kares Page Terrace. The keynote speaker is extreme adventurer and education leader Tori Murden McClure.

In the event of bad weather, the ceremony will be moved to 10:30 a.m. at the James Madison University Convocation Center in Harrisonburg. The decision will be made by 6 a.m. Sunday. If there is a question about the weather, call 540-887-7378 for a recorded message or check for a web alert.

Here are 13 things you should know about the big event:

  1. The ceremony will officially cap off Mary Baldwin’s quartoseptcentennial year and mark the first time that the institution will confer degrees as Mary Baldwin University.
  2. It is the first time that Mary Baldwin will award doctoral degrees, with the charter classes of occupational therapy and physical therapy students graduating from MBU’s Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences. It is also the first year Mary Baldwin will award a bachelor of science in nursing.
  3. This year, 389 students will graduate from MBU. This includes 101 graduates in the Mary Baldwin College for Women, 116 in the Baldwin Online and Adult Program, 64 students in the College of Education (24 Master of Education, 40 Master of Arts in Teaching), 26 candidates in the Shakespeare and Performance Program (15 Master of Letters, 11 Master of Fine Arts), and 82 students from the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences (18 Bachelor of Arts in Nursing, 33 Doctor of Occupational Therapy, and 31 Doctor of Physical Therapy).
  4. The theme for the Class of 2017 — a tradition in the Mary Baldwin College for women, and chosen at the start their freshman year — is “Defining Courage,” and the class colors are lavender and white.
  5. There is a mother-daughter duo graduating on Sunday. Registered nurses Laura Harris and Kristen Longwith will both receive their bachelor of science in nursing degrees from Murphy Deming.
  6. Commencement speaker Tori Murden McClure is president of Spalding University in Louisville, and is also the first woman and the first American to navigate the nearly 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean in a solo rowboat. She also logged a 750-mile trek to take her place as the first woman and first American to ski to the geographic South Pole
  7. The oldest graduate from the class of 2017 is 71-year-old Janet Almquist, a Baldwin Online and Adult Program student who is earning a degree in criminal justice, and the youngest is 16-year-old Spencer Sigtryggsson, who began college early thanks to MBU’s Program for the Exceptionally Gifted.
  8. President Pamela Fox will confer upon all graduates and all alumni the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award to recognize the passion and commitment that has and will continue to carry Mary Baldwin in to the future.
  9. Sunday’s Commencement program and Saturday’s doctoral hooding and BSN pinning ceremony at Murphy Deming will be streamed online at for those who cannot attend. Sunday’s live stream will also be available for viewing inside James D. Francis Auditorium.
  10. Three 2017 MFA graduates originally came to Mary Baldwin as undergraduates: Justine Mackey, Clarence Finn, and Shane Sczepankowski. They entered the BA/MLitt program, earned their MLitts last year, and will earn their MFAs this year.
  11. For the first time, MFA candidates will be hooded on the stage of the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton.
  12. There is a set of identical twins within the OT program: Brooke and Taylor Ladyman and one set of identical twins across health sciences programs: Taylor and Tianna Delp, who are in the OT and PT programs respectively.
  13. Two PT students who met in the program are now engaged: Matt Jewell and Morgan Gosbee.

Full schedule and more information about events all weekend long is available online.

*Numbers as of May 17