May 22, 2009

SSU's Commencement 2009 to Graduate Largest Class in its History, May 23

Happy GradSonoma State University will award diplomas to the largest graduating class in its history - 2242 students - at its 48th annual commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 23. Approximately 1,500 are expected to participate with their families and friends. The event historically draws more than 10,000 people to Commencement Lawn on the Rohnert Park campus.

Ceremonies are scheduled at 9 a.m. for the School of Arts and Humanities, School of Business and Economics, and the School of Education and 3 p.m. for the School of Science and Technology and the School of Social Sciences.

The top ten degrees awarded are in Business Administration, Psychology, Liberal Studies (Hutchins), Sociology, Communication Studies, Education, Environmental Studies, Kinesiology, Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies and History.

During and after, the ceremony can be viewed by visiting SSU's Streaming Media website from any location with Internet access for those who wish to view the ceremony from home or some other location.

Keynote speaker for both the morning and afternoon ceremony is Henry Rollins, a Grammy-winning musician, activist, spoken-word artist and former lead of punk band Black Flag.

Student speakers are Sterling Nicholaus Jones and Adam Williams. Jones has earned two bachelor's degrees - in Sociology and in American Multicultural Studies. Williams, with his degree in Environmental Studies and Planning, plans to contribute his experiences in restoration ecology and conservation biology to environmentally-based projects as a volunteer for the Peace Corps in Latin America.

An Honorary Degree will be presented to Dr. Claude Ganz, a Bay Area philanthropist who has been the tireless driving force in an establishing the new Jewish Studies Program and raising the funds to support its permanent endowment. A survivor of the Holocaust, he is an advocate for Jewish education as a way of promoting interfaith tolerance. He was also President Bill Clinton's Special Representative to oversee the Economic Reconstruction of Bosnia.

At 72, Deborah Kakalik will be the oldest member of the 2009 graduating class as she accepts a diploma for a Bachelors of Arts in Music. A retired SSU education professor, Kakalic returned to school to realize a lifelong aspiration to study piano.

"When I was teaching, I often thought how wonderful it would be to take music classes. I never had time. As retirement drew near, I began to rekindle my childhood dreams," she said.

Madrone Williams graduates at the same time as her 28-year-old son, Jeremiah Grim. Williams first attended SSU in the 1980s and brought Jeremiah to class with her as a young mother. On Saturday, he graduates with a degree in Environmental Studies and Planning with a focus on Urban Planning. Williams earns a Masters of Science in Nursing with an emphasis in Management and Leadership.

For further information, visit the Commencement 2009 Web site.

Jean Wasp
Media Relations Coordinator
University Affairs
(707) 664-2057