Two recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, are among those scheduled to address the graduates.

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For the Second Year in a Row, Brooklyn College to Graduate Largest Class in Decades

May 25, 2012

Undergraduates will celebrate their graduation on May 31.

Undergraduates will celebrate their graduation on May 31.

Approximately 4,500 students will graduate from Brooklyn College in the Class of 2012, making it the largest graduating class in 35 years. Brooklyn College will confer the baccalaureate and master's degrees as well as several advanced certificates to the graduates at three commencement ceremonies scheduled for Wednesday, May 30, and Thursday, May 31.

Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a 2008 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush, will deliver the keynote address at the baccalaureate ceremony, where he also will receive an honorary doctor of science degree.

A native of Brooklyn, Fauci is a key adviser to the White House and one of the nation's leading experts on HIV/AIDS. He is one of the world's most cited scientists and regularly appears in the media to discuss HIV/AIDS as well as other issues related to his research.

Sylvia Mendez, a leading advocate for civil rights for more than 70 years and a 2011 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama, will deliver the keynote address at the second master's ceremony, where she also will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

In 1947, when she was just eight years old, a lawsuit filed by Mendez's parents led to the desegregation of all public schools in California and paved the way for the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Honorees at the 2012 Brooklyn College Commencement Exercises also include legendary jazz musician Cecil Taylor, who is considered with John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman among the three jazzmen whose works contributed to the rise of "free jazz"; Martin Mendelsohn '63, an international attorney who founded the Office of Special Investigations of the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for prosecuting Nazi war criminals; and John Yau '78 M.F.A., an award-winning poet, author and art critic, who will deliver the keynote address at the first master's ceremony.

At the baccalaureate ceremony, the college will confer a bachelor of arts degree in sociology posthumously to Titanya Charles, who died earlier this year at the age of 24 from complications due to an ongoing medical condition. Titanya, who was an active member of the Sociology Club and a recipient of the Brooklyn College Alumni Association Campus Chapter Scholarship, would have graduated this May. Faculty members and fellow students describe Titanya as a diligent, independent and courageous young woman, and a person who possessed a great sense of humor.

With two master's ceremonies, candidates for master's degrees and advanced certificates will enjoy more room for family and friends.

With two master's ceremonies, candidates for master's degrees and advanced certificates will enjoy more room for family and friends.

This year's Commencement Exercises will be divided into three ceremonies:

  • Candidates for master's degrees and advanced certificates from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences; the School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences; and the School of Visual, Media and Performing Arts will receive their diplomas at the first master's ceremony to be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 30, in Whitman Theater.
  • Candidates for master's degrees and advanced certificates from the School of Business and the School of Education will receive their diplomas at the second master's ceremony to be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 30, in Whitman Theater.
  • All candidates for bachelor's degrees will receive their diplomas at a ceremony to be held on the college's Central Quad on Thursday, May 31, starting at 10 a.m.

On May 31, the college also will hold its 50th anniversary reunion for the Class of 1962, which includes notable alumni such as Senator Barbara Boxer and Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs; Ella Weiss, president of the Brooklyn Arts Council; and award-winning television and film director Joel Zwick.

Brooklyn College's first-ever commencement ceremony was held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on June 21, 1932. A total of 89 diplomas were handed out at that ceremony.

Music at all three ceremonies will be provided by the Brooklyn College Conservatory Brass Ensemble, conducted by Bruce Bonvissuto. Bonvissuto succeeds Douglas Hedwig who, until his retirement this year, was coordinator of brass instrument studies and professor of trumpet with the Conservatory of Music. During his career at the college, he served as conductor of all commencement ceremonies and convocations for 25 years, from 1985 to 2010.


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