March 5, 2018

Dear Faculty and Staff,

I’m sure that, like me, you’re looking forward to celebrating the Class of 2018 at Trinity’s 192nd Commencement on Sunday, May 20.

It’s my privilege now to share with you the names of this year’s Commencement speaker and honorary degree recipients. The Commencement speaker will be renowned educator, cultural anthropologist, and author Johnnetta B. Cole. Cole made history in 1987 when she became the first African American woman president of Spelman College. Her appointment in 2002 to the presidency of Bennett College was historic as well—she is the sole person to have served as president of the only two historically black colleges for women in the country. More recently, she served as director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (2009–17).

In addition to being an inspiring role model, mentor, and much sought-after speaker, Cole 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.

Receiving honorary degrees this year will be Walter Harrison ’68, president emeritus of the University of Hartford; Ralph V. Katz ’65, founding chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion at New York University College of Dentistry; and William Palmer Scully ’61, civic leader and investment management professional. Harrison, who will be honored by the University of Hartford at its commencement on the same day, will receive his honorary degree during Reunion in June.

This year’s Baccalaureate speaker will be selected from among the faculty in a new process led by College Chaplain Allison Read.

The Baccalaureate ceremony will be held in the Chapel at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 19, and the Commencement ceremony will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 20. I hope you’ll join us for these momentous occasions in honor of the great Class of 2018.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience