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Commencement Set for Sunday at Nickerson, Rain or Shine

Friday’s event locations changed due to rain; click here for details

Students celebrated in the rain at the 2006 Commencement exercises. Photo by BU Photo Services

The flowers are planted, the programs are printed, and the 5,500 graduates at Sunday’s Commencement ceremony know what they’ll be wearing — academic robes in Terrier scarlet. Only one area of uncertainty remains: the weather.

Boston University’s 134th Commencement ceremony will take place — rain or shine — on Nickerson Field this Sunday, May 20, at 11 a.m. Some 5,500 students will receive degrees, and another 20,000 people are expected to be in the stands, cheering.

This year’s main speaker is Steven Chu. The 1997 Nobel laureate in physics is currently leading a multidisciplinary initiative to create sustainable, carbon-neutral sources of energy. Chu will receive an honorary Doctor of Science from BU.

Noted journalist, editor, and author Bill Kovach will deliver the main address at Sunday morning’s Baccalaureate service, which will take place at Marsh Chapel at 9 a.m. Among the publications Kovach has worked for during his extensive career are the New York Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is now senior counselor at the Project for Excellence in Journalism in Washington, D.C. Kovach will be given an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Other honorary degree recipients are American painter Brice Marden (CFA’61); Judy Norsigian, coauthor of Our Bodies, Ourselves; Samuel O. Thier, former CEO of Partners HealthCare System, Inc.; and Peter Vermilye, senior advisor and portfolio manager at Fortis Investments and a Boston University trustee.

All degree candidates are to arrive at the lineup areas via Harry Agganis Way no later than 10:15 a.m. University marshals will direct graduates to the appropriate school or college lineup areas.

There is no reserved seating in the Nickerson Field stands, except seating for disabled guests. Guests are advised to arrive no later than 10 a.m.

Diploma convocations for individual schools and colleges will be held during the afternoon and evening at various locations. Because seating capacity may be limited at these smaller ceremonies, students are advised to check with school and college coordinators to determine if there is a limit to the number of guests allowed to attend.

Although the University will not be distributing MBTA passes this year, shuttle buses will operate continuously along Commonwealth Avenue to transport guests to Nickerson Field and on-campus convocation sites. Hours of service will be from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. The buses will stop upon request.

Family and friends not able to be at Nickerson Field can watch the Commencement ceremony via live Webcast or listen locally to WBUR 90.9FM, Boston University’s National Public Radio station.

Sunday’s ceremony caps a weekend of Commencement and Reunion activities, and students and their families can choose from a number of options at BU. Saturday will kick off with opportunities to view the Boston University Experience, a multimedia presentation that showcases the University’s role as a force for social change throughout its 168-year history. A picnic and University block party will follow at the Fuller Building at 808 Commonwealth Ave. Riverboat cruises along the Charles River will run all day, and an All-University Buffet Celebration will take place at 5:30 p.m. Finally, the 16th Annual Comedy Night, featuring comedian Greg Fitzsimmons (CGS’87, CAS’89), will begin at 8:30 p.m.

Two event locations have been changed: The Golden and Silver Terriers Reception, scheduled for 5:30-7 p.m. Friday on Alpert Mall, has been relocated to the GSU BackCourt, 775 Commonwealth Ave., and the Trustee Scholars Alumni and Seniors BBQ, scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at 25 Lenox St., has been moved to the Photonics Center Colloquium Room, 8 St. Mary’s St., 9th floor.

Out-of-town visitors can also get to know the city of Boston, with some extra help from the BU community. Students, faculty, and staff participated in a University-wide “Best of BU” contest last fall, nominating and voting for the best places to shop, people-watch, eat, and explore. To see the results, visit the Best of BU Web site.

Vicky Waltz can be reached at vwaltz@bu.edu.