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UT Austin honors class of 2001 with three-day celebration May 18-20

The evening Commencement ceremony, the crowning event to a weekend of festivities designed to honor University of Texas at Austin undergraduate and graduate degree candidates, will be held May 19 on the South Terrace of the Main Building. The event last year drew 26,000 people to the campus.

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AUSTIN, Texas—The evening Commencement ceremony, the crowning event to a weekend of festivities designed to honor University of Texas at Austin undergraduate and graduate degree candidates, will be held May 19 on the South Terrace of the Main Building. The event last year drew 26,000 people to the campus.

There are 7,057 degree candidates this year. This compares to the 6,487 students who actually graduated last spring.

World-renowned physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg will deliver the Commencement address. Weinberg holds the Josey Regental Chair of Science at UT Austin, where he is a member of the physics and astronomy departments. His research in elementary particle physics and cosmology has been honored with numerous prizes and awards, including the Nobel Prize in physics in 1979 and the National Medal of Science in 1991.

Through their research, scholarship and creativity, the University is recognizing the contributions of its faculty and, in fact, has dedicated the 2000-2001 academic year to past and present faculty members. The choice of this year’s Commencement speaker reflects this effort.

The 2001 University-wide ceremony, which marks the 118th observance of UT’s spring graduation, is free and open to the public. Seating will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. Video screens will provide the audience with a close view of the activities on stage. Air-conditioned seating will be available in Flawn Academic Center Room 21, Batts Auditorium and Hogg Auditorium.

The celebration begins at 7 p.m. with music by UT Steel Pan, the UT Austin steel drum band — a student group under the direction of music Professor George Frock. This will be followed at 7:20 p.m. by the Commencement concert and at 8 p.m. by the grand procession of graduates and faculty members. The University Wind Ensemble and the Texas Chorale will perform during the concert with members of the Longhorn Band drum line and color guard leading off the processional of degree candidates.

The grand processional was redesigned last year to create more of a celebratory parade effect. Graduates now walk from the Littlefield Fountain on 21st street up to the South Terrace led by a small group of musicians. This also will be the second year that the undergraduate student’s gown and mortar board regalia will include a satin stole in the color of the student’s college or school. The stole or vestment has "UT Commencement 2001" inscribed in black letters.

UT Austin President Larry R. Faulkner will preside over the graduation ceremonies. The closing fireworks display has become a much-anticipated part of the evening. In addition to the Tower turning orange at the moment the degrees are conferred, the six buildings lining the South Mall also will be lit orange.

Cyberlights will be projected on the south face of the Tower and also on the east face.

University theater students are taking an active role in their graduation this year with their involvement in the ceremony’s computerized lighting program. "We are talking about using more instruments to allow for a wider array of looks during the ceremony," said Ryan Hogg, who with fellow student Autum Samsula is working under the direction of theater professor Amarante Lucero. "We want the ceremony to be classy at all the right points and have the moments of excitement reflected in our lighting choices."

"Commencement is a time of beginnings and endings, a reflection of the ageless cycle that defines and renews life," said Faulkner. "The annual ritual marks not only the triumphant culmination of our students’ academic programs, but also the new beginning in a lifelong engagement with the challenges of family and society."

All degree candidates participating in the evening ceremony are required to present a ticket when lining up for the grand procession. Tickets are available at the Frank Erwin Center and the Performing Arts Center box offices. Graduates will be recognized individually at their college and school convocations. These ceremonies will take place Friday through Sunday of Commencement weekend. Because of high attendance, some colleges are having departmental ceremonies.

Parking for all Commencement activities is free in designated parking garage areas throughout the weekend on a first-come, first-serve basis. Additional parking information is available on the web at <http://www.utexas.edu/business/parking>.

There will be real-time broadcast of the event on the University’s website at: <http://www.utexas.edu/commencement/2001/webcast.html>.

Refreshments will be available for purchase at various locations in addition to free water available at several sites. Special services also will be available to accommodate needs for individuals with disabilities.

In case of rain, the Saturday evening ceremony will be moved to the Frank C. Erwin Center at 15th and Red River streets. The decision to move the event indoors will be made by the President’s Office late Saturday afternoon. The media will be notified.

The Office of Public Affairs has set up a phone number (512) 232-9999, to provide general information about the main graduation ceremony, college and school convocations and updated weather plans. The number will be available beginning Friday morning (May 18).