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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Showers Threaten As 1472 Graduate

By Susan D. Chira

Predictions of scattered showers and thunderstorms threaten the 327th Commencement exercises this morning, as 1472 seniors prepare to receive their diplomas.

If the National Weather Service's prediction of a 90-per-cent chance of rain holds true, the traditional procession of seniors and alumni/ae into the Yard will be cancelled, but the exercises in the Yard's Tercentenary Theatre will continue, rain or shine, Victor A. Koivumaki III '68, a member of the Committee for the Happy Observance of Commencement, said yesterday. The last time rain fell on the Commencement exercises was in 1975.

Prompt

The Commencement exercises will begin promptly at 10 a.m., with indoor seating available for approximately 2000 of the expected 20,000 guests in Sanders Theatre and the Science Center, Koivumaki said. "Bring umbrellas," he suggested.

The Commencement proceedings will be televised live and in color by WBIX, Channel 44 and over WHRB.

Many of the graduating seniors will be wearing black armbands to protest Harvard's investments in South Africa, and the Southern Africa Solidarity Committee (SASC) plans a "nondisruptive" protest.

Three Orations

The exercises will include three speeches by students, the Latin Oration and the English graduate and undergraduate orations. This year is the first year since 1973 that all three speeches will be given. Thomas A.J. McGinn '78 will deliver the Latin Oration, Harry J. Elam '78 will deliver the undergraduate English Oration and Gregory Lipscomb will deliver the graduate English oration.

Following the exercises, the 1052 men and 420 women will proceed to their Houses with their families for the awarding of the diplomas.

Three hundred and seventy-nine seniors will graduate without honors. Of the honors graduates, 352 will receive cum laude degrees, 304 cum laude in general studies, 354 magna, 24 magna with highest honors, and 59 summa. The Economics Department will award the most summas, with a total of six. A number of departments, however, will distribute no summas, including the departments of History, English and American Literature, Philosophy, Music and Sociology.

Beginning at 11:30 a.m., the University's graduate schools will award their diplomas, followed by receptions for their graduates. Of the graduate schools, the Law School will award the most diplomas, with 609 graduating. In all, the University will award 4472 graduate and undergraduate degrees.

After the awarding of graduate degrees, the alumni parade will march to the Tercentenary Theater for the afternoon exercises at 2:15. If it is still raining, the parade will not be held.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn will address the 13th annual meeting of the Associated Harvard Alumni, held in the Tercentenary Theatre regardless of rain.

President Bok will also deliver an address.

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