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Graduate Commencement

From the time Virginia Tech began awarding graduate degrees in 1892 through 1989, those degrees were presented during regular commencement ceremonies. But in 1990 university officials decided to shorten the commencement ceremonies by presenting doctoral students with their degrees in a separate ceremony, called the Doctoral Graduation Ceremony, with the first one held on Friday, May 4, 1990, in Cassell Coliseum. In 1994 the ceremony was expanded to include all graduate students completing their degree work, with the exception of candidates for the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, who received their degrees in a separate ceremony. An additional fall ceremony was added in 1996.

Graduate Commencement Speakers

  • 1990 E. Fred Carlisle, provost, Virginia Tech
  • 1991 Francis T. Borkowski, president, University of South Florida
  • 1992 Raymond Marshall, former U.S. Secretary of Labor
  • 1993 Eleanor Baum, dean of engineering, The Cooper Union, New York City
  • 1994 Paul E. Torgersen, president,Virginia Tech
  • 1995 F.M. Anne McNabb, professor, Virginia Tech
  • 1996 (spring) James P. Wightman, Alumni Distinguished Professor, Virginia Tech
  • 1996 (fall) Paul B. Siegel, University Distinguished Professor, Virginia Tech
  • 1997 (spring) J. Michael Duncan, W. Thomas Rice Professor and University Distinguished Professor, Virginia Tech
  • 1997 (fall) George M. Simmons, Alumni Distinguished Professor, Virginia Tech
  • 1998 (spring) Paul Knox, University Distinguished Professor and dean , College of Architecture and Urban Studies, Virginia Tech
  • 1998 (fall) John J. Tyson, University Distinguished Professor, Virginia Tech
  • 1999 (spring) James K. Mitchell, Charles E. Via Jr. Professor and University Distinguished Professor, Virginia Tech
  • 1999 (fall) Rosemary Carucci Goss, Residential Property Management Advisory Board Professor, Virginia Tech
  • 2000 (spring) Harold E. Burkhart, University Distinguished Professor and head, Department of Forestry, Virginia Tech
  • 2000 (fall) Marion Ehrich, professor and co-director, Laboratory for Neurotoxicity Studies, Virginia Tech
  • 2001 (spring) Arthur J. Keown, R.B. Pamplin Professor, Virginia Tech
  • 2001 (fall) Kenneth L. Reifsnider, professor, Virginia Tech
  • 2002 (spring) Lucinda Roy, Alumni Distinguished Professor and director of Creative Writing, Virginia Tech
  • 2002 (fall) Paul Antonie “Tony” Distler, Alumni Distinguished Professor and director, School of the Arts, Virginia Tech
  • 2003 (spring) Debra W. Stewart, president, Council of Graduate Schools
  • 2003 (fall) Walter Rugaber, former president and publisher, The Roanoke Times and a Virginia Tech Presidential Fellow
  • 2004 (spring) Orlando L. Taylor, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School, Howard University
  • 2004 (fall) Peter Eyre, former dean, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech
  • 2005 (spring) Judith I. Bailey, president, Western Michigan University
  • 2005 (fall) Philip S. Thompson, retired vice president of emerging markets, IBM and member, Virginia Tech Board of Visitors
  • 2006 (spring) Gaston Caperton, president, College Board
  • 2006 (fall) Ben J. Davenport Jr., chairman, First Piedmont Corporation and Davenport Energy and member, Virginia Tech Board of Visitors
  • 2007 (spring) Alberto Bustani, president, Monterrey Region of the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Mexico
  • 2007 (fall) Michael F. Hochella Jr., University Distinguished Professor, Virginia Tech
  • 2008 (spring) Tae-sik Lee, Republic of (South) Korea ambassador to the United States
  • 2008 (fall) Marc Edwards, Charles Lunsford Professor of Civil Engineering, Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech
  • 2009 (spring) Nicholas Frank Taubman, president, Mozart Investments; retired chair and CEO, Advance Auto Parts; and former ambassador to Romania
  • 2009 (fall) Elsa A. Murano, professor and president-emerita, Texas A&M University
  • 2010 (spring) Stephan Bieri, consultant specializing in scientific evaluation and intellectual property and chair of Virginia Tech’s Virginia Bioinformatics Institute
  • 2010 (fall) Lori Wagner, manager of Advanced Fibers and Composites for Honeywell International, alumna, and former member of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors
  • 2011 (spring) Betty P. Chao, founder, president, and chief executive officer of WESTECH International Inc., and alumna
  • 2011 (fall) Jaan Holt, Patrick and Nancy Lathrop Professor of Architecture and director of the Washington Alexandria Architecture Center, National Capital Region, Virginia Tech
  • 2012 (spring) Mark G. McNamee. Virginia Tech Senior Vice President and Provost
  • 2012 (fall) Kirk H. Schulz, president of Kansas State University, and Noel Schulz, president of IEEE Power and Energy Society, and associate dean for research and graduate programs and Paslay Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Kansas State (rescheduled until December 2013 because inclement weather prevented them from traveling to Blacksburg)
  • 2013 (spring) Christoph Ebell, counselor and head of the Office for Science, Technology and Higher Education at the Swiss Embassy in Washington, D.C.
  • 2013 (fall) Kirk H. Schulz, president of Kansas State University, and Noel Schulz, president of IEEE Power and Energy Society, and associate dean for research and graduate programs and Paslay Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Kansas State.
  • 2014 (spring) Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia
  • 2014 (fall) Dennis R. Dean, University Distinguished Professor and director of the Fralin Life Science Institute, Virginia Tech
  • 2015 (spring) Ansley Abraham, founding director of the Southern Regional Education Board's State Doctoral Scholars Program
  • 2015 (fall) Karen A. Roberto, University Distinguished Professor and Director, Institute for Society, Culture and Environment and Center for Gerontology
  • 2016 (spring) Stanley Atcitty, Research Scientist, Energy Storage Technology and Systems Department, Sandia National Laboratories
  • 2016 (fall) Andy Morikawa, senior fellow with the School of Public and International Affairs’ Institute for Policy and Governance
  • 2017 (spring) Laura Lindenfeld, Director, Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and Professor, School of Journalism, Stony Brook University
  • 2017 (fall) Brenda Winkel, professor and head of the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech
  • 2018 (spring) Virgil Wood, Ridenour Fellow with the School of Public and International Affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies