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Skidmore College

Commencement honorees, and how to see them

May 15, 2017

At Skidmore's graduation (May 20, 10:30 a.m., at SPAC) education advocates Oprah Winfrey, Ann Rubenstein Tisch, and Wes Moore will receive honorary doctorates and speak to the Class of 2017.

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey

Talk-show host, media executive, and O magazine founder, Winfrey is an Oscar-nominated actress for The Color Purple and appeared in the Oscar-winning Selma. Her philanthropy includes her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, which has a graduate in Skidmore's Class of 2017. Winfrey was awarded a Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Ann Tisch
Ann Tisch

Former NBC News journalist Ann Rubenstein Tisch is a founder and leader of Young Women's Leadership Schools and the CollegeBound access program. After the first opened in East Harlem in 1996, the success of YWLS schools across New York City has inspired the opening of others, including affiliates in Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, and Texas.

Wes Moore
Wes Moore

Wes Moore is a Rhodes Scholar, Army veteran, and bestselling author who leads BridgeEdU, a national initiative to boost college completion and career placement by starting with freshmen. The host of TV shows Beyond Belief and Coming Back with Wes Moore, he is also the executive producer for the PBS documentary All the Difference, about African-American teens pursuing their dream of graduating from college.

Full profiles are here.

For those eager to attend the event, here are 10 tips and how-to's:

  1. Tickets, please. Each graduating senior was allocated six tickets for admission into the amphitheater. No ticket? No problem: lawn seating is open. BYO blanket or lawn chair.

  2. Timing. SPAC gates open at 8 a.m., but if you try "saving" amphitheater seats with a jacket or other article, staff will remove them. The processional that kicks off the ceremony needs clear pathways, so both amphitheater and lawn audiences need to be seated by 10:30.
Saratoga Performing Arts Center
Saratoga Performing Arts Center
  1. Brrr... The amphitheater is covered but not enclosed, let alone heated or cooled. Sometimes it's a hot day in May, but more often it's quite chilly. Dress in layers and maybe bring a blanket.

  2. Packing. Guests can bring soft-sided coolers, umbrellas, binoculars, and strollers, but not alcohol, pets, bikes, or (go figure!) fireworks. Full do's and don'ts here.

  3. Getting there. Use the Route 50 SPAC entrance for parking. On the grounds, security officers and volunteers will help usher everyone, but here's a map.

  4. Disability access. Seniors' six tickets can include up to three that include a drop-off pass, special seating, or listening help. The drop-off point is right near the amphitheater, and the ceremony is presented in sign-language from on stage.

  5. Photography. Photos may be taken anytime, but only from your seats. A photo firm snaps each of the graduates as they receive their diplomas from the president, and later the firm uses email to invite grads to purchase their photo.

  6. Posies. Flower bouquets are available for purchase on the SPAC grounds.

  7. Departure. The ceremony typically ends by 1 or 1:30 p.m., and is followed by an after-party with refreshments back on campus at the dining hall. Seniors must be cleared out of their rooms by 10 a.m. the next day—Sunday, May 21.

  8. Questions? Friendly helpers, at the info table and roaming in yellow vests, can render aid for just about any problem on-site.

Get details about all the logistics here.

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