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Gwen Ifill speaks at 176th Commencement.

Lafayette granted 551 degrees to 526 graduating seniors, the Lafayette Medal for Distinguished Service to Elbern H. Alkire Jr. ’58, and honorary doctorates to four distinguished leaders, including TV journalist Gwendolyn Ifill, today at the 176th Commencement.

During her address, Ifill, who is a best-selling author and senior correspondent for The PBS NewsHour, told graduates that they are now “called to a mission” and must learn to speak up for others who cannot speak for themselves.

“Your experience here is only the beginning. You are educated. You are officially members of the elite. But you are not complete until you acknowledge that it is what’s in your soul that will determine your success,” said Ifill, “Say yes to opportunity, to the chance to change the world, to the goals that seem just out of reach … especially when people tell you no.”

President Daniel H. Weiss awarded the honorary degrees and delivered farewell remarks for the Class of 2011. Receiving honorary degrees were Ifill (Doctor of Journalism); Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J., president of College of the Holy Cross (Doctor of Humane Letters); Wilbur W. Oaks ’51, retired professor of medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine and founder of Saint John’s Hospice Homeless Soccer Team Program, Body and Soul (Doctor of Public Service); and Salvatore J. Panto Jr., mayor of the City of Easton (Doctor of Public Service). Edward W. Ahart ’69, chair of the Board of Trustees, presented Alkire with the Lafayette Medal.

Ines Amenabar ’11 also delivered farewell remarks for the class of 2011. She is the recipient of the George Wharton Pepper Prize, awarded to the senior who “most closely represents the Lafayette  ideal.” Amenabar, of Guatemala City, Guatemala, graduated with an A.B. with majors in economics and government & law.

The first students to receive their diplomas were Nicholas Barna ’11, Lauren Huyett ’11, and Cara Murphy ’11, who achieved the highest cumulative grade-point average in the class. Barna, of Mountaintop, Pa., received a B.S. in chemistry; Huyett, of Blandon, Pa., received a B.S. in chemical engineering; and Murphy, of Providence, N.J., received an A.B. with majors in English and psychology.

Christina Hunt ’11, Daniel Miller ’11, and Amanda Whitbred ’11, co-chairs of the Class of 2011 Gift Committee, presented the class gift. Hunt, of Phoenixville, Pa., received an A.B. in government and law; Miller, of Rockville, Md., received a B.S. in civil engineering; and Whitbred, of Doylestown, Pa., received an A.B. will majors in English and philosophy.

Weiss congratulated the recipients of annual Lafayette awards for distinguished teaching, scholarship, and service to the College and recognized William J. Collins, associate professor of computer science, and Ann V. McGillicuddy-DeLisi, Marshall R. Metzgar Professor of Psychology, who are retiring and have been elected to emeritus status.

Ahart recognized trustees Jeffrey P. Feather ’65 and Michael H. Moskow ’59, who are retiring and have been elected to emeritus status.

Weiss conferred degrees upon the graduates and was assisted in presenting diplomas by Susan Niles, professor of anthropology and clerk of the faculty, and Hannah W. Stewart-Gambino, dean of the College.

Susan A. Basow, Charles A. Dana Professor of Psychology, led the academic procession as Bearer of the Mace. Annette Diorio, dean of students, marshaled the class of 2011. Wendy L. Hill, provost and dean of the faculty, marched at the head of the faculty. President Emeritus Arthur J. Rothkopf ’55 led the trustees and the platform party.

Colatch delivered the invocation and gave the benediction. Jennifer Kelly, assistant professor of music and director of choral activities, led the Lafayette Choir in the singing of “America the Beautiful” and “The Alma Mater.”

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