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Ho, Clinton to Address Graduates at Largest Commencement Ever

By Aileen Tang
Staff Reporter

"Commencement this year will be longer, more highly anticipated and better attended than ever,"according to Charles M. Vest, president of the Institute.

With well over 2,100 graduating students receiving more than 2,400 degrees and extraordinary guest speakers, today's 120thcommencement ceremony is expected to attract over 10,000 guests, the largest Killian Court has ever witnessed.

William J. Clinton, president of the United States, and Dr. David Ho, world-renowned AIDS researcher, will both address the 1998 graduating class.

"Science and politics each provide an opportunity to shape the future and to make the lives of others better,"Vest noted. "Both speakers have dealt with some of the greatest challenges of our times. The contrast of their world views and the commonalities of their goals provide for an enormously interesting program."

This is the first time a sitting president of the United States will address MIT's graduating class. It is also the first time commencement has hosted two guest speakers since 1979, when the ceremony moved outdoors to Killian Court. Previous commencement sites have included Rockwell Cage, Boston's Symphony Hall, and Trinity Church.

Alexander d'Arbeloff '49 will preside over the first commencement since his appointment as chairman of the Corporation last year.

The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. with the traditional academic procession, led by Robert M. Metcalfe '68, president of the Association of Alumni and Alumnae. After an invocation by religious counselor Swami Sarvagatananda, Ho will address the graduates.

Senior Class President Salman A. Khan '98 will then present the class gift, which is the renovation of the Student Center reading room. Following a brief charge to the graduates by Vest, Clinton will deliver his speech, themed on "opportunities in the information age."

"In planning the President's commencement schedule, we tried to match the topic of the speech to the right setting,"said Ann Lewis, White House communications director. "MIThas been at the very forefront of the two most important transformations in American society, the industrial age and the information age."

"So MITwas the right place to talk about opportunities in the information age,"Lewis said.

To accommodate this year's large group of spectators, the ceremony will be played live on a Jumbotron projection screen positioned on the right hand side of Killian Court.

Event requires high security

President Clinton's presence has resulted in an unprecedented level of security measures. Many MITbuildings and portions of surrounding roads, including Massachusetts Avenue and Memorial Drive, will be closed during periods of the day.

The MIT Campus Police have worked closely with the United States Secret Service to "make sure commencement flows well,"said Chief of Police Anne P. Glavin. "When you're dealing with the president of the United States, who happens to be the most protected person in the world, the logistics are massive."

"[We] have hosted foreign presidents and Vice President Al Gore in the past. [Hosting President Clinton] is similar but times ten,"Glavin said.

To accommodate the security screenings required by the U.S. Secret Service, Killian Court will open to guests of graduates at 6:30 a.m. All guests are expected to have completed their screenings by 9 a.m.

Because of the earlier arrival times compared with past years, 7,500 light snacks consisting of a bagel, fruit, and water will be served in Killian Court for guests of graduates, said Elizabeth Emery, Aramark dining manager. Graduates will receive continental breakfasts in Johnson Athletic Center after passing their security screenings.

Rain locations, customary for commencements, were abolished this year due to the security required for Clinton's visit. In the event of rain, ponchos will be distributed to the graduates and assembled guests.

Buildings 1 through 13 with the exceptions of Building 9 andBuilding 12 are all closed from 2 a.m. until 1 p.m. today due to security requirements associated with the president's visit. In addition, the handling of hazardous materials is prohibited in most areas of the main campus behind Killian Court.

Shortly prior to the commencement ceremony, Clinton is scheduled for a private meeting with 13 student leaders, including Khan, past Undergraduate Association President Dedric A. Carter '98, Interfraternity Council President Duane H. Dreger '99, Dormitory Council President Manju Madhavan '98, Graduate Student Council President Brian J. Schneider G, and others.

The program concludes shortly after the awarding of degrees by Vest and Provost Joel Moses PhD '67, who will return to teaching this summer. President Vest will hold a reception for all graduates and their guests in McDermott Court.

Live broadcasts of the commencement ceremony are available via the World Wide Web, over MITcable, and via WMBR radio. WCVB-TV (Channel 5), New England Cable News, C-SPAN, and Media One's Cambridge Cable system will also provide live coverage of Clinton's speech. As of noon Thursday, over 120 members of the local press were scheduled to attend the event in addition to the White House press corps.

Douglas E. Heimburger contributed to the reporting of this story.