News Release: Student Life, University News

May 9,  2011

Emory University Holds Commencement May 9 for 3,550 Graduates

News Article Image

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano delivered the keynote address at Emory University’s 166th commencement ceremony Monday, May 9.  She received an honorary doctor of laws degree. The central ceremony, started at 8 a.m., and was followed by individual college and school diploma ceremonies. Commencement will be archived online.

Emory President James W. Wagner presided at the 90-minute ceremony. The event took place on the Emory quadrangle for about 3,550 graduating students and their families. About 15,000 people were expected to attend. For full details on Emory’s commencement, go to

An additional 385+ students graduated from the two-year program at Oxford College of Emory University in Oxford, Ga., Saturday, May 7. 

In addition to Napolitano, three other outstanding leaders in their fields received honorary degrees and included:

  • Depression expert William R. Beardslee, M.D., who received an honorary doctor of science degree;
  • World-renowned philosopher Martha Nussbaum, who received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree; and
  • Sculptor and landscape artist George Trakas, who received an honorary doctor of humane letters.

The academic procession under the direction of Chief Marshal Larry Taulbee, professor of political science, was led across the university’s historic quadrangle by the kilt-clad Atlanta Pipe Band. Dressed in full Scottish Highland attire, the drum and bagpipe ensemble marched to “Emory and Old St. Andrews March” written by Emory alumnus Henry D. Frantz Jr. in honor of Emory's sister institution, the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Members of the procession were dressed in the academic regalia of caps, gowns and hoods adopted by the class of 1902. Depending on their field of study, the hoods of graduates were scarlet, gold, purple, salmon, sapphire, apricot, white, green or dark blue.

The Thomas Jefferson Award, the university’s premier faculty/administrative officer award for significant service to the institution, and the University Scholar/Teacher Award, given on behalf of the United Methodist Church Board of Higher Education and Ministry, were presented. The Marion Luther Brittain Award, the most prestigious student award for service to the university, also was given.

Following the central ceremony, students reported to various locations on campus to receive diplomas from their individual schools. The diploma ceremony for the Emory College of Arts and Sciences is being held on the quadrangle, during which time the McMullan Award, which comes with $20,000, no strings attached, is presented.

Getting Ready for Commencement

Volunteers help with annual chair rodeo


It took dozens of volunteers about three hours to set up thousands of chairs for Monday's ceremony. Watch it all in just one minute.


News Release Tools