May 16, 2012 — When Edwin A. Alderman became the first president of the University of Virginia in 1904, he lamented the dearth of pomp and circumstance among graduating students and faculty. Henceforth, he declared, academic regalia would be worn during Final Exercises.
On Sunday, U.Va. will not lack for pomp and circumstance, as the Class of 2012 and faculty process down the Lawn for the 183rd Final Exercises.
It will be the second time President Teresa A. Sullivan has presided. "This will be my third Final Exercises, and my second as president," she said. "It's such a proud day for me to recognize the accomplishments of these young people as they move on to jobs, graduate school, military service, Teach for America, Peace Corps and their many other endeavors."
The University's 11 schools will award 6,411 degrees. That total includes 3,732 bachelor's degrees, 2,166 master's degrees and 513 first professional degrees. Some 843 graduates are international students. Fifty-four students earned their degree in three years or less, including one student who finished in two years or less.
Between 30,000 and 35,000 people are expected to descend upon the Grounds during the weekend.
Award-winning journalist and TV personality, well-known cancer advocate and best-selling author Katie Couric, who is a 1979 alumna of the College of Arts & Sciences, will give the commencement address on Sunday. She will speak from the south end of the Lawn following the traditional academic procession from the Rotunda, which begins at 10 a.m.
Val Ackerman, a 1981 College alumna and Cavalier basketball star who went on to be founding president of the Women's National Basketball Association, will give the valedictory address. The Class of 2012 Valedictory Exercises will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. on the Lawn.
Other public events, all on Saturday:
• School of Nursing Hooding Ceremony, 1 p.m., McLeod Hall auditorium.
• Curry School of Education Hooding Ceremony, 2 p.m., Culbreth Theatre.
• Joint Commissioning Exercises for Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force ROTC candidates, 3 p.m., Old Cabell Hall Auditorium
• School of Nursing Pinning Ceremony, 5:30 p.m., Old Cabell Hall Auditorium.
• Donning of the Kente ceremony, sponsored by the Office of African-American Affairs, 7 p.m., Culbreth Theatre. (Tickets required; call 434-924-7923.)
• The Virginia Glee Club Finals Concert, 8 p.m., Chapel. (Free, donations accepted.)
Details are available on the Finals Weekend website.
• A native of Arlington, Katie Couric is an honors graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences in English with a concentration in American Studies. She was an associate editor of the Cavalier Daily, head Lawn resident and a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority.
Couric this summer joined the Disney/ABC Television Group and serves as special correspondent for ABC News, contributing to "ABC World News," "Nightline," "20/20," "Good Morning America," and primetime news specials. Beginning in September, she will host a new syndicated daytime daily talk show, "Katie."
In September 2006, Couric became the first female solo anchor of an evening news broadcast. She served as anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric" until this past May. She also was a contributor to "60 Minutes," "CBS Sunday Morning" and CBS News primetime specials.
On May 31, 2006, she completed a 15-year run as co-anchor of NBC News' "Today" show. In October, the Wall Street Journal called her one of the "most successful anchors ever" at "Today."
Couric has received many honors and awards for her work in journalism, including numerous Emmy Awards, the Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast in 2008 and 2009, the Walter Cronkite Award for Special Achievement in 2009, and the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media in 2009. In 2010, Couric was awarded an Alfred I. duPont Award for her 2008 interview with Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric" received a second duPont for the series, "Children of the Recession." She is the author of New York Times best-seller "The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons From Extraordinary Lives."
A tireless advocate for cancer detection and treatment, Couric is co-founder of Stand Up To Cancer, co-founder of the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance with the Entertainment Industry Foundation and Lilly Tartikoff, and founder of the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
• Val Ackerman, a New Jersey native, was a four-year starter and three-time captain on Coach Debbie Ryan's early women's basketball teams. She graduated in 1981 with a degree from the College in interdisciplinary studies, played professional basketball in France, earned a law degree in 1985 and in 1988 joined the National Basketball Association as a staff attorney.
In 1996, she was named president of the new Women's National Basketball Association, oversaw its launch in 1997 and ran the day-to-day operations for eight seasons. The league, which embarks on its 16th season this weekend, is the longest-running women's professional team sports league in the U.S.
In 2005, Ackerman was elected president of USA Basketball for the 2005-08 term, leading the organization to an overall competitive record of 222-23 and gold medal performances by the U.S. men's and women's teams at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
In a 2008 interview, she credited her time at the University, where she was a two-time Academic All-American, with laying the groundwork for her success. "I had a rigorous academic program," she said. "The educational and social experience was amazing, and to be a student-athlete there was a unique experience."
She was a Lawn resident and among the first women's scholarship athletes. In 1997, she was honored with the Distinguished Alumna Award from the U.Va. Women's Center. She is a member of the executive committee of U.Va.'s capital campaign and on the board of directors of the Virginia Athletics Foundation.
In her capacity as a member of the campaign executive committee, she has been leading the U.Va. Women in Leadership and Philanthropy effort for several years. She spearheaded the planning for the Women in Leadership conferences in 2008 and 2010, and remains involved in the planning for the 2012 conference.
Ackerman also serves on the board of directors of USA Basketball, the executive committee of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Board of Trustees for the March of Dimes.
Though the weekend's forecast is for warm temperatures and sunny skies, contingency plans are in place for inclement or severe weather.
If the inclement- or severe-weather plan is followed for Valedictory Exercises or Final Exercises, announcements will be made no later than 8 a.m. on local radio stations and the University's home page. If in doubt, call the University's weather hotline, 434-924-7669 or 434-243-7669, or the graduation information line, 434-982-2908.
In the case of inclement or severe weather on Saturday, Valedictory Exercises will be moved from the Lawn to the John Paul Jones Arena.
For Sunday, the severe-weather plan will be followed only in case of thunder, lightning, high winds or other conditions that make it unsafe to hold ceremonies outside. Rain alone does not constitute severe weather.
Depending upon the weather, the University may implement its inclement weather plan. Final Exercises would be held on the Lawn as planned, but diploma ceremonies would be moved indoors. Under this plan, faculty and students and their guests will go to the inclement weather sites designated on the "Diploma Ceremony Locations" chart for diploma distribution.
In the event of severe weather, the School of Architecture, College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, McIntire School of Commerce, School of Continuing and Professional Studies, Curry School of Education, School of Nursing and Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy will hold Final Exercises at 10 a.m. in John Paul Jones Arena. Only those with tickets will be admitted.
Faculty and students of the Darden School of Business and the schools of Engineering and Applied Science, Law and Medicine and their guests will go to the severe-weather sites designated on the Diploma Ceremony Locations chart for both degree conferral and diploma distribution.
Alcohol is not permitted at any of these locations.
Live Web Stream and Remote Viewing
A live webcast of the commencement is available on the University of Virginia's website.
Guests can watch Final Exercises from nine remote viewing sites: Alumni Hall Ballroom, Harrison Institute Auditorium, Chemistry Building Auditorium, Gilmer Hall Auditoriums (rooms 130 and 190), Newcomb Hall Ballroom, Ruffner Hall Auditorium, Student Activities Building and Zehmer Hall.
Parking and Transportation
Free parking will be available at the Emmet/Ivy Parking Garage (near the Cavalier Inn), Scott Stadium, John Paul Jones Arena and University Hall. Shuttle buses will be available at all sites, except the Emmet/Ivy Garage. Limited paid parking will be available in the Central Grounds Garage; no shuttle service will be provided.
Public parking will not be available on Central Grounds. McCormick Road will be closed from Emmet Street to the Chapel.
Facts and Figures
Academic procession: Takes about an hour. Final Exercises last about two hours.
Attendance: Between 30,000 and 35,000 people are expected to descend upon the Grounds.
Buses: 40 buses will ferry students and guests around Grounds.
Diplomas: U.Va. diplomas are 17 inches wide and 22 inches high.
Diploma ceremonies: 57 ceremonies for 11 schools and disciplines will be held.
Food: U.Va. Catering plans to serve 500 pounds of hot dogs, 17,000 petite gourmet cookies, 4,000 bakeshop cookies, 500 jumbo cookies, 2,500 brownies, 400 gallons of lemonade, 200 gallons of iced tea, 4,000 bottles of water and 400 pounds each of pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew melon and strawberries. About 75 food service employees will be on the job.
And more food: 17,000 cookies, 221 gallons of lemonade and 140 gallons of water will be served at the President's Reception after Valedictory Exercises on Saturday and at some of the diploma ceremonies.
Chairs: For about 6,000 graduates, their families and guests, 36,000 chairs at 50 sites, including 21,000 on the Lawn and 15,000 for diploma ceremonies, are set up for Finals Weekend.
The Lawn: About 2,000 pounds of grass seed are sown on the Lawn starting in early spring in preparation for the University's Finals Weekend.
Stages and tents: Workers will install 16 stages and seven tents of various sizes around Grounds and furnish them with podiums, tables, stairs, ramps or lifts, skirting, rails and sound systems. Facilities Management will deploy 15 sound reinforcement systems, connecting 42 loudspeakers and 22 microphones by rolling out almost one mile of cabling. A quarter-mile of electric wire is used to power monitors and speakers. A half-mile of speaker cable is used to connect speakers.
TV monitors: Two Jumbotron television monitors, each 10 feet by 13.3 feet, are set up on the Lawn, providing a better view of the proceedings for those seated at the Lawn's northern end.
Viewing sites: Besides the Lawn, guests can watch Final Exercises from nine remote viewing sites: Alumni Hall Ballroom, Chemistry Building Auditorium, Gilmer Hall Auditorium, Harrison Institute and Small Special Collections Library Auditorium, Newcomb Hall Ballroom, Ruffner Hall Auditorium, Student Activities Building, Zehmer Hall Auditorium and Newcomb Hall third floor.
Viewing online: Final Exercises will be streamed live here.
Webcam: Watch 24 hours on the Lawn for Final Exercises in 24 seconds.
Workers: Around 140 Facilities Management employees are deployed on the day of graduation. Around 200 are involved in the preparation for Finals Weekend, which includes everything from set-up to take-down. Graduation will also be staffed by about 35 workers from the Office of Development and Public Affairs. There will be nearly 100 University police and security officers, as well as participation from the Charlottesville police, the Albemarle County police and the city and county sheriff's offices. There will also be about 230 ushers for the Lawn ceremony and 90 for the diploma ceremonies.