Colby will hold an in-person graduation ceremony on the Miller Library lawn for the Class of 2020 at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 11, as part of Reunion 2022.
Like other graduates across the country, members of Colby’s Class of 2020 completed their senior year remotely following the emergence of Covid-19 in March of that year. They received their diplomas by mail and celebrated commencement virtually but did not have the opportunity to participate in a traditional commencement ceremony. The June ceremony will include a cap-and-gown processional, remarks by a beloved, inspirational speaker chosen by the class, and the cheering support of families, friends, faculty, and other alumni who are also celebrating their reunions.
“We are thrilled to be welcoming so many members of the great Class of 2020 to campus for this long-overdue acknowledgment of their accomplishments,” said President David A. Greene. “Members of the Class of 2020 demonstrated resilience and a remarkable ability to adapt to a difficult, uncertain situation, and we can’t wait to give them the ceremony they deserve.”
Members of the class requested that their speaker be a member of the faculty, and through a vote, they selected Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Sociology and African-American Studies. Gilkes said she was “shocked and honored” with her selection for the graduation ceremony and thrilled with the prospects of delivering her remarks in person.
“There are so many other people who would make wonderful graduation speakers, who I would want to hear, so many faculty members I could recommend,” she said. “But I am honored, and I am looking forward to addressing the class.”
Gilkes has taught at Colby since 1987. An ordained minister with expertise on African-American religious history, race, and ethnicity in the United States, she is assistant pastor for special projects at the Union Baptist Church in Cambridge, Mass. She holds degrees in sociology from Northeastern University (B.A., M.A., Ph.D.) and has pursued graduate theological studies at Boston University’s School of Theology. She is the recipient of an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Ursinus College in Pennsylvania.
In her research, teaching, and writing, she focuses on the role of African-American women in creating social change and on the diverse roles of Black Christian women in the 20th century. She has written books and essays, edited journals, and delivered lectures and papers at colleges, universities, and conferences in the United States and across the world. In 2020 the graduating class chose Gilkes as the recipient of the Charles Bassett Teaching Award. As recipient, she delivered the College’s traditional “Last Lecture”—online.
Members of the class are invited to return to campus on Wednesday, June 8, for a series of social events preceding the ceremony. Almost 350 of the 490 class members currently plan to return for graduation.
The graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 is a central element of Reunion 2022, which will take place over two weekends, June 2-5 and June 10-12. During the first reunion weekend, Colby will welcome those celebrating their 35th through 60th reunions, along with the Golden Mules. The second reunion weekend, the College welcomes those in their first to 30th reunion milestones.
Members of the public are invited to attend the June 11 ceremony. Details are available at 2020graduation.colby.edu.
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