Oberlin College Commencement

Oberlin College Commencement

Commencement/Reunion Weekend 2017

Oberlin College will celebrate Commencement/Reunion Weekend from May 19-22, 2017, which represents a slight shift from when the event is typically held: Memorial Weekend. Commencement 2017 will be on Monday, May 22.

Oberlin College faculty approved changes to the academic calendar in 2012. Officials wanted to extend Reading Period, close the gap between the end of New Student Orientation and the beginning of classes, reduce the time between the end of winter term and the beginning of the second semester, and end the second semester earlier.

As a result of these changes, Commencement will not always be on Memorial Day; rather, Commencement will now take place on the fourth Monday each May.

In some years the dates will coincide. In 2018, Memorial Day will also be on the fourth Monday. However, in 2017 and other years, Commencement/Reunion Weekend will occur the weekend before Memorial Day. We will continue to prepare for a memorable weekend with such familiar traditions as Illumination and class reunions. Please plan to join us.

Highlights from 2016

We invite you to read the transcripts and watch the 2016 Commencement addresses:

Take a look at the pictures, sound bites, and videos we captured of the Commencement/Reunion 2016 festivities throughout the weekend on our Flickr, Facebook, and Tumblr sites.

Commencement/Reunion Weekend took place May 20-23, with Commencement exercises on Monday, May 23 on Tappan Square. Jessye Norman, hailed as one of the world’s greatest opera and concert singers, gave the Photo by James E. AlexanderCommencement address. Norman, who made her debut at age 23, has starred in leading opera houses, concert halls, and music festivals throughout Europe, North America, and three other continents. She has forged a prolific recording career with more than 40 albums and five Grammy Awards to her credit.

A soprano, Norman’s voice has been resoundingly praised for its mastery of expression, technical control, and sheer power, while her diverse song repertoire spans standard and obscure operas to German lieder (classical songs), avant-garde works, and even popular ballads.

Norman received an honorary Doctor of Music.

In addition to Norman, the college presented honorary degrees and service awards to the following alumni and friends of the college:

Review the Commencement Schedule Book for complete details. 

Photo of Norman by James E. Alexander

Multifaith Baccalaureate Service is May 22


The annual Multifaith Baccalaureate Service was held at 1 p.m., on May 22 in Finney Chapel with guest speaker the Reverend Frank Chikane, a pastor of the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa in Naledi, Soweto. The church has a presence in more than 30 countries across six continents. Chikane is currently its international president.

The Rev. Chikane received an honoray Doctor of Humanities.

The focus of his talk, "Reconciling Our Times," examined his life’s work in forgiveness, reconciliation, and actions to confront apartheid. The ceremony included musical tributes in honor of the Conservatory of Music’s 150th anniversary and featured performances by Dance Diaspora, Echoes, Higher Ground, and more.

Chikane is the senior vice president of the South African Council of Churches and serves as part of the All Africa Conference of Churches Advisory Committee on Peace on the African continent. He also serves on a number of boards, presiding as chair of the boards of Kagiso Trust, Kagiso Capital, and City Power Johannesburg.

He is the visiting adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Public and Development Management at the University of the Witwatersrand, and holds two masters degrees in religious studies from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (1992), and public administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (1995). He received an honorary doctorate in theology from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.


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