Trinity College’s 192nd Commencement to Be Held Sunday, May 20

Educator, Cultural Anthropologist, and Author Johnnetta B. Cole Is Featured Speaker

​Hartford, Connecticut, May 17, 2018 – In a ceremony revered for its pomp, pageantry, and historical significance, Trinity College will celebrate its 192nd Commencement with an anticipated gathering of more than 5,000 students, families, alumni, faculty, staff, and guests on its Main Quadrangle on Sunday, May 20.

One family will have double the reason to celebrate. Graduating senior Alex Bednarek and his mother, Roberta Rogers—who is Trinity’s senior associate director of student success, will both receive degrees; he is earning his bachelor of science degree in neuroscience, while she is collecting her master’s degree in public policy.

The academic procession will begin at 10:50 a.m. as the students continue the tradition of stepping on the Luther-Roosevelt stone, which was laid in 1919 on the Long Walk in front of the Fuller Arch at Northam Towers. The stone’s inscription commemorates the visit in 1918 by former President Theodore Roosevelt, who received an honorary degree that year. Students later began the tradition of not walking on the stone before Commencement day, fearing that to do so would in some way prevent their graduation.

The Commencement ceremony is scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m. Among a total of 580 graduating, 354 undergraduates will receive B.A. degrees, 204 will be awarded B.S. degrees, and 22 graduate students will receive master’s degrees. Included among the undergraduate degree recipients are 16 Individualized Degree Program (IDP) students.

Johnnetta B. Cole
Renowned educator, cultural anthropologist, and author Johnnetta B. Cole will be the Commencement speaker. Cole made history in 1987 when she became the first female African American president of Spelman College. Her appointment in 2002 to the presidency of Bennett College was historic as well—Cole is the only person to have served as president of the country’s two historically black colleges for women. More recently, she served as director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (2009–17).

A much sought-after speaker, Cole is the recipient of numerous honors and accolades, including a degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from Trinity College in 1998. She has authored or edited several books, and she serves as a consultant with Cook Ross, a Maryland firm that advises organizations in the areas of diversity, inclusion, cultural competency, leadership development, and organizational change management. Cole is a graduate of Oberlin College, and she earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in anthropology from Northwestern University.

Receiving honorary degrees from Trinity this year will be Ralph V. Katz, founding chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion at New York University College of Dentistry; William Palmer Scully, civic leader and investment management professional; and Walter Harrison, president emeritus of the University of Hartford. Katz, Trinity College Class of 1965, is to be awarded the degree of Doctor of Science. Scully, Trinity College Class of 1961, is to be awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. Harrison, who will be honored by the University of Hartford at its commencement on the same day, will receive his honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during Trinity’s Alumni Reunion in June, when he and his Class of 1968 classmates will celebrate their 50th Reunion.

Graduating senior Elhadji Mare has been selected as the Commencement ceremony’s student speaker. A psychology major and studio arts minor, Mare has been a P.R.I.D.E. [Promoting Respect for Inclusive Diversity in Education] leader since 2015, helping first-year students explore Hartford and mentoring them as they get to know Trinity’s campus. He has served as secretary of the Psychology Club, events coordinator for student-run music and arts house The Mill, social media analyst and head of merchandise for the Temple of Hip Hop and the Trinity International Hip-Hop Festival, and a member of the improv comedy troupe The Moveable Joints. Mare, who came to Trinity from Harlem, New York, as a Posse scholar, started a clothing brand called Corners (@cornersny on Instagram) with two other Trinity students. 

The valedictorian and salutatorian of the Class of 2018 will be announced during the ceremony. In addition, 45 undergraduates have earned the designation summa cum laude, 37 have earned the designation magna cum laude, and 60 have earned the designation cum laude. Fifteen graduate students earned the designation “honors.”

Also, the Trinity College Trustee Awards for Faculty, Student, and Staff Excellence will be announced, as will additional awards for exemplary teaching—the Thomas Church Brownell Prize for Teaching Excellence, which goes to a senior faculty member, and the Dean Arthur H. Hughes Award for Achievement in Teaching, which is given to a junior faculty member.

Following the ceremony, a reception will be held on the soccer practice field, where President Joanne Berger-Sweeney; her husband, Urs V. Berger; and members of the Board of Trustees will congratulate the graduates and their guests.

Commencement will be held rain or shine on the Main Quadrangle. In the event of extreme weather conditions, the ceremony will be moved to the Koeppel Community Sports Center at 175 New Britain Avenue. Indoor seating is limited. If such a move is necessary, details will be communicated by 7:00 a.m. Sunday and a notice will be posted at For those who do not get seating in Koeppel, the ceremony may be viewed online via livestream or at these campus locations: Boyer Auditorium in the Albert C. Jacobs Life Sciences Center, Cinestudio in the Clement Chemistry Building, Goodwin Theater in the Austin Arts Center, McCook Auditorium in the McCook Academic Building, Vernon Social, and the Washington Room in Mather Hall.

For more information about Trinity’s 192nd Commencement and to view the ceremony online via livestream, please click here.

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To watch a video featuring three members of the Class of 2018 as they reflect on their time at Trinity, click here.