1,700 Students to Graduate TodayBy Reuven M. Lerner
About 1,700 students will receive some 2,000 degrees at MIT's 128th Commencement exercises, to be held today in Killian Court.
The Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, will deliver the Commencement address to the graduates and nearly 8,000 relatives and guests expected to attend the ceremony. President Charles M. Vest will deliver the charge to the graduates, and Corporation Chairman Paul E. Gray '54 will preside over the exercises.
Formal Commencement activities begin at 9:45 a.m. with the traditional academic procession from 77 Massachusetts Ave. to Killian Court. The Aga Khan will deliver his address after an invocation by the Rev. Scott Paradise, MIT's Episcopal chaplain. The Aga Khan's philanthropies have helped the poor in many countries where the Ismailis live.
Following the Aga Khan's speech, Caryl B. Brown G, outgoing president of the Graduate Student Council, will deliver a salute to MIT from the graduate student body. Class of 1994 President Ann Chen '94 will then present the senior class gift to Vest, who will then give the charge.
Vest will present diplomas to students receiving bachelor of science degrees; some of these graduates will also receive master of science degrees. Provost Mark S. Wrighton will hand out advanced degrees. Students will approach the stage in two lines, with their names announced in an alternating pattern.
Following the Commencement ceremony, Vest will host a reception for graduates, their guests, and members of the 50th reunion Class of 1944 and the 25th reunion Class of 1968 at several locations in or near McDermott Court.
Students receiving doctoral degrees were hooded yesterday at a special ceremony in Rockwell Cage. Departments and their representatives assisted school deans in hooding the degree recipients.
About 30 graduating cadets and midshipmen in MIT's Army, Air Force, and Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps units will be commissioned alongside the historic frigate USS Constitution at 4:30 p.m. The address will be delivered by Air Force Secretary Sheila E. Widnall '60, who was formerly an associate provost and is currently on leave from her position as professor of aeronautics and astronautics.
In announcing the selection of the Aga Khan as Commencement speaker, Vest said, "His commitment to using modern resources for the betterment of his people, and his deep concern for their welfare, make him a fitting role model for those whose own careers will have similar potential."
The Aga Khan, a direct descendent of the Mulsim prophet Mohammed, became 49th Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismailis in 1957 at the age of 20, a year before his graduation from Harvard University. This followed the death of his grandfather, the Aga Khan III, who wanted to be succeeded by a "young man who has been brought up in the midst of the new age."
In 1979, with an initial gift of more than $11.5 million, he established the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT and Harvard, a major cultural effort to preserve and restore the values and practice of architecture that reflects the Islamic spirit. The joint program embraces research and teaching in architecture of the Islamic world and links both MIT and Harvard with universities in the Muslim world.