Skip to main content

Northwestern Set to Celebrate Class of 2012

Global health pioneer Paul Farmer, inaugural NU-Q grads highlight 154th commencement

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Excitement on campus is building this week in anticipation of Northwestern University’s 154th commencement.

Several days of activity will culminate at 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 15, with the main ceremony for graduates at Ryan Field on the Evanston campus.

A live webcast of the ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. It can be accessed at

Paul Farmer -- the physician known worldwide for his pioneering work in global health, particularly in Haiti – will deliver the keynote address to the Class of 2012.

The University will award honorary degrees to four distinguished individuals:

  • Joan Ganz Cooney, co-founder of the Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop), creator of Sesame Street and now chair of the Workshop’s executive committee.
  • Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners In Health. The multinational humanitarian organization works with communities to fight disease and to deliver health care in resource-poor areas of the world. It includes 12 sites throughout Haiti and 12 other countries around the world.
  • Martha Minow, the Dean and Jeremiah Smith Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, who has written extensively about human rights, with a focus on racial and religious minorities as well as on women, children and persons with disabilities.
  • William D. Nix, the Lee Otterson Professor Emeritus of Engineering at Stanford University, who is a pioneering researcher in the mechanical properties of materials.


The 2012 commencement is historic for its inclusion of the inaugural graduating class from Northwestern University in Qatar. The 36 members of the class of 2012 are the first NU-Q students to earn Bachelor of Science degrees in journalism and communication. Of this year's graduating class, 28 of the 36 seniors are traveling from Doha, Qatar, to participate in commencement activities in Evanston.


Following is a list of this week’s commencement events and activities.

Thursday, June 14

• Student Honors Day: Select graduating seniors receive special recognition from their respective schools in an event hosted by President Morton Schapiro. Invitation only. 10 a.m., Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St.

• President's Reception: Graduates, their families and guests are invited to attend this informal reception with President Schapiro. No tickets required. Noon, Norris University Center, East Lawn, 1999 South Campus Dr.

• Naval ROTC Commissioning Ceremony: Admission is open. 2:30 p.m, Harris 107, 1881 Sheridan Rd.

• PhD/MFA Hooding Ceremony: Admission by ticket only. 3 p.m., Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St.

• Baccalaureate Service: University chaplain Timothy Stevens invites graduates, their families and guests to attend this interfaith service, which incorporates the principal faith traditions of the University. No tickets required but seating is first-come, first-served. 4 p.m., Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Dr.

Friday, June 15

The 154th annual commencement ceremony. Admission by ticket only. 10:30 a.m., Ryan Field, 1501 Central St.

Convocation ceremonies for graduates of the School of Continuing Studies, the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Communication, School of Education and Social Policy and Kellogg School of Management. (Visit school web sites for times, locations and other details.)

Saturday, June 16

Convocation ceremonies for students of the McCormick School, the Bienen School of Music, the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and School of Communication. (Visit school web sites for times, locations and other details.)


Five high school teachers who have made a profound impact on the lives of five Northwestern seniors will join their former students and receive special awards.

The five educators -- selected from a pool of more than 80 nominations -- are the recipients of the second annual Northwestern University Distinguished Secondary Teacher Awards. The awards include $2,500 for each teacher and $2,500 for their respective schools.

Secondary Teacher Award recipients are:

  • Greg Devine, an advanced placement physics teacher at Delbarton School in Morristown, N.J. (Nominated by Luke Francis Hemenetz of McCormick.)
  • Rafael Arechabaleta, an honors and advanced placement physics teacher at University School of Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (Nominated by Weinberg seniors Michael Dornbusch, Jonathan Schwartz, Matthew Adam Bartnovsky, Mitchell Drew and Kelly Flowers.)
  • John F. Belcaster, a Northwestern alumnus who, prior to teaching, worked alongside now President Barack Obama at the Chicago law firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland, teaches honors American and world history at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago. (Nominated by Weinberg senior Patricia Radkowski.)
  • Amanda Bright teaches journalism and composition at Mattoon High School in Mattoon, Ill., where she developed the journalism curriculum. (Nominated by Medill senior Sarah Eberspacher.)
  • Christine Jawork teaches African and Asian studies at Harriton Senior High School in Rosemont, Pa., where she also directs the Students Building Community Team and coaches the Mock Trial Team and World Affairs Club. (Nominated by Weinberg senior Benjamin Goldberg.)
Back to top