COLUMBIA — Stephens and Columbia Colleges will hold their commencement ceremonies Saturday, conferring bachelor’s and master’s degrees to graduates.
More than 170 Stephens graduates are expected to participate, and more than 500 Columbia College students are set to graduate, nearly 25 percent with honors.
The 132 honors students at Columbia College include 34 magna cum laude and 32 summa cum laude graduates.
“This very high percentage speaks volumes about the quality of both Columbia College students and faculty," said Terry Smith, executive vice president and dean for academic affairs, in a prepared statement.
"I am especially proud of our honors graduates because there is no grade inflation at Columbia College," he said. "Our honors graduates have excelled, and they have done so in rigorous courses with high academic expectations.”
Gerald Brouder, president of Columbia College, will address the graduates at two commencement ceremonies in Southwell Gymnasium on campus.
The first ceremony will begin at noon for honors day campus students from the main campus in Columbia, and evening, online and nationwide campus students receiving associate or master's degrees.
The second ceremony begins at 3:30 p.m. for honors baccalaureate degree candidates from the college's adult higher education venues.
Both commencement ceremonies will last approximately an hour and 15 minutes. Graduates of the nursing program will take part in the nurses pinning ceremony at 2 p.m. in Launer Auditorium.
Before commencement at 9:30 a.m., the ivy chain ceremony, one of the oldest commencement ceremonies in the United States, will take place on Bass Commons.
The ceremony features ivy-draped seniors walking through historic Rogers Gate to form a circle on the commons. Two designated graduates, called ivy cutters, cut the ivy from each person, signifying that although they have graduated, they will always remain a part of the school.
The ivy cutters, Mark Hammel of Lake County, Ill., and Veronica Thompson of Fort Drum, N.Y., both candidates for bachelor’s degrees in business administration, were nominated from the college's 35 nationwide and its online campuses. Nominees are usually working adults whose families have made sacrifices to achieve the dream of a college degree.
Each ivy chain participant also receives three long-stemmed red roses with notes to give to those who have made significant impacts on their college career.
Stephens College traditional undergraduates will receive their diplomas at 2 p.m. in the John and Mary Silverthorne Arena at Stephens. Graduate and Continuing Studies students will receive theirs at 10 a.m. in the Kimball Ballroom of Lela Raney Wood Hall.
Jeanne Fernandes of Acushnet, Mass., and Jacqueline Hubbard of Columbia will speak at the graduate students’ ceremony. Fernandes will graduate with a Certificate in Health Information Administration, and Hubbard will receive a Master of Education in counseling.
The class speaker for the undergraduates will be Kristin Parran of St. Louis, who will graduate magna cum laude with a bachelor's in marketing with an emphasis in public relations and advertising.
Ana Langer, a physician in pediatrics and neonatology, as well as a reproductive health specialist and public health researcher and president of Engender Health, an international reproductive health organization, will deliver the defining address at the undergraduate ceremony. She will also receive an honorary Doctorate of Humanities for her work in women's health and rights and for her expertise on reproductive health policy, programs and research with a specific focus on maternal health.