Trinity College will celebrate the achievements of its newest graduates on Sunday, May 22, as the college hosts its 196th Commencement ceremony on the Main Quad.
All the traditional pomp and pageantry of a Trinity College Commencement is planned, beginning at 10:50 a.m. as the academic procession gets underway on the Long Walk, and each graduate will have the long-awaited opportunity to walk across the Luther-Roosevelt stone, which students have carefully avoided stepping upon throughout their years at Trinity. The Luther-Roosevelt stone was laid in 1919 to commemorate a 1918 visit by former President Theodore Roosevelt, who received an honorary degree that year. Trinity 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.
Students, families, alumni, faculty, staff, and guests—about 5,000 attendees altogether—will gather for the ceremony, scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m. More than 520 degrees will be conferred on students, including an anticipated 320 undergraduates receiving B.A. degrees, 188 undergraduates being awarded B.S. degrees, and 14 graduate students receiving master’s degrees. Included among the undergraduate degree recipients will be six Individualized Degree Program (IDP) students.
Trinity College alumnus Raja Changez Sultan, an internationally renowned painter and poet from Pakistan, will be the Commencement speaker. Sultan graduated from Trinity in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He then earned two master’s degrees from Columbia University before becoming one of Pakistan’s most prolific creatives.
After completing his childhood education in Pakistan and England, Sultan arrived on the Trinity campus, where he penned his first poem, “The Mirror.” The day after composing the poem, Sultan sat in the cafeteria with Trinity English Professor Hugh Ogden, who read his poem and offered him the encouraging instruction to keep writing. Taking his advice, Sultan has forged an intellectual journey spanning more than 50 years, throughout which his work as both a writer and a painter has been celebrated internationally.
Inspired by his works of poetry, Sultan’s paintings have been exhibited extensively around the world. While he has continued to write and paint under the ideals of equity and inclusion, his career has included service to the United Nations and the World Health Organization before serving in senior-level positions for the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation. He also served as director general for the Pakistan National Council of the Arts in Islamabad, advancing the work of artists, thinkers, writers, and the visual and performing arts. Sultan will receive an honorary doctor of fine arts degree in recognition of his distinguished career and for his devotion to a more just society for his home country and for the world.
Honorary degrees also will be presented to Lloyd Alexander Lewis Jr., a 1969 Trinity graduate and the first African American from Alexandria, Virginia, to be ordained to the priesthood of the Episcopal Church, and Cornelia Parsons Thornburgh, a member of Trinity’s Class of 1980 and the first female chair of the Trinity College Board of Trustees.
Graduating senior Renita Washington has been selected as the Commencement ceremony’s student speaker. An educational studies major with a focus on early childhood and prison education reform, Washington is a Posse Scholar from Chicago. She has been an active student leader throughout her four years on campus, including serving as leader of the Multicultural Affairs Council of the Student Government Association, a Temple of Hip Hop organizer, and a member of the Trinity College Gospel Choir.
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 honors a junior faculty member.
Commencement will be held rain or shine on the Main Quad. 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 www.trincoll.edu. The following locations will be available for friends and family members who do not have extreme weather tickets to view the ceremony: 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, and the Washington Room in Mather Hall.
For more information about Trinity’s 196th Commencement, please visit www.trincoll.edu/Commencement/. To view a live video of the ceremony online, beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET, look for the link on the Commencement website. Follow the festivities on social media @TrinityCollege, and use #TrinGrad to join the conversation.
In June, members of Trinity College’s Class of 2020 also will have an opportunity to don caps and gowns for an in-person Commencement ceremony to be held during the college’s Reunion Weekend 2022.