The Wire @ WPI Online
VOLUME 13, NO. 1     DEC 1999

Commencement '99

Here's what graduates and guests at WPI's 131st Commencement saw during this year's sun-drenched ceremony. They saw some 700 students cross the stage at the east end of the Quadrangle to receive their bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. degrees from President Parrish. They saw Eric Hahn '80, formerly chief technology officer at Netscape and now head of Inventures Group, a venture capital company, deliver a rousing Commencement address.

They saw honorary doctorates presented to a distinguished group of industry leaders. That's President Parrish in the photo with, from left, Douglas G. Noiles '44, a pioneer in the development of artificial hip and knee replacements, Eric Hahn, Bruce R. Bond, then chairman, chief executive officer and president of PictureTel Corp., and Paul Severino, chairman of NetCentric Corp.

What they may not have noticed were dozens of staff members and students working behind the scenes making sure that one of the University's most complex events came off smoothly. In the hours leading up to the big day, the grounds were carefully groomed; several big meals (including a breakfast for hundreds of graduates and their families) were planned and prepared; 6,000 chairs, a stage, a large white tent and elaborate plantings were set up on the Quad; and cables were strung, and sound and video equipment set up to amplify and record the ceremony.

On Commencement morning, volunteers gathered in Boynton Hall to learn how to help students assemble in the correct order for the procession to the Quad. A team from the Registrar's Office made certain that the right diploma for each student made its way into the president's hands. And the Brass Ensemble, under the direction of Douglas Weeks, administrator of applied music, provided the music for the two-and-a-half-hour ceremony.

Through a small miracle--performed each spring--every detail fell into place, leaving graduates and guests to concentrate on savoring this magical and memorable day.

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Last modified: Jan 20, 2000, 15:48 EST