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More than 5,200 graduates to be honored at Virginia Tech's spring commencement May 15


   

Graduates at a commencement ceremony Graduates at a commencement ceremony


BLACKSBURG, Va., May 11, 2009 – Now in its 138th year, Virginia Tech will hold its University Commencement ceremony at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 15, in Lane Stadium/Worsham Field.

Read the related “Commencement guidelines and flu outbreak advice from Schiffert Health Center” Campus Notice.

Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Lance L. Smith, a graduate of the Pamplin College of Business who served as the commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command, Norfolk, Va., and NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation from 2005 to 2007, will deliver the keynote address to the approximately 33 associate's degree candidates and 4,011 bachelor's degree candidates who will be honored.

Businessman, philanthropist, and statesman Nicholas Frank Taubman, will address graduate and professional degree candidates at the Graduate Commencement ceremony that same day, at 3 p.m. at Cassell Coliseum. Approximately 1,201 students will be honored at that ceremony -- 887 master’s degree candidates, 15 education specialist degree candidates, 10 Ed.D. candidates, 42 graduate certificates, and 247 Ph.D. candidates.

In addition, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine will be represented by 87 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree candidates.

Individual college and departmental convocation ceremonies will be held throughout the day on Saturday, May 16.

Virginia Tech's 29th National Capital Region commencement ceremony will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 17, at the George Mason University Center for the Arts in Fairfax, Va. Shelley Duke, owner and manager of Rallywood Farm in Middleburg, Va., and long-time supporter of Virginia Tech's Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Va., will speak to the approximately 300 National Capital Region graduates.

Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger will preside over the two Blacksburg ceremonies and the National Capital Region event.

This year, the most popular major for graduating undergraduates is mechanical engineering. Biology and marketing follow in second and third places respectively. The fourth most popular major is psychology, followed by human nutrition, foods, and exercise; finance; and communication.

Smith retired from active duty on Jan. 1, 2008. As Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, Smith led the transformation of NATO's military structures, forces, capabilities, and doctrines to improve interoperability and military effectiveness of the alliance and its partner nations. As commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command, he was responsible for maximizing present and future military capabilities of the United States by leading the transformation of joint forces in the areas of providing joint forces to combatant commanders, joint training, joint interoperability, and joint innovation and experimentation.

Taubman is a native of Roanoke, Va., and the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Advance Auto Parts, founded by his father in 1932 and the only Fortune 500 business located in the Roanoke Valley. He also serves as president of Mozart Investments in Roanoke. He was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Romania, where he worked to bring new industry to Romania and improve health care. He also helped bring a NATO summit to Romania, which involved a three-day visit by President George W. Bush. Before leaving the country in December 2008, he was awarded its highest civilian honor, the Star of Romania. Taubman and his wife, Jenny, are the largest donors to the new Taubman Museum of Art in downtown Roanoke, which was named in their honor.

A native of San Francisco, Duke is chairperson of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center Council, a leadership group that helps guide the center, one of three campuses that comprise the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. In the early 1990’s, Duke established the center’s volunteer program, which provides community members with an opportunity to volunteer in a variety of hospital activities. Her service with the equine medical center led to greater levels of engagement with Virginia Tech, where she has served as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Committee for the veterinary college and the Virginia Tech Foundation.

Each May, approximately 5,000 Virginia Tech undergraduate, graduate, and professional students are expected to complete their degree requirements and participate in commencement ceremonies. Approximately 15,000 to 20,000 family members and guests travel to Blacksburg to join graduating students.

Find more information on Virginia Tech spring commencement activities on the Commencement website.

Should inclement weather be a factor for Friday’s ceremony in Lane Stadium, call the university Weather Line at (540) 231-6668 or check the university homepage.