Cole named graduation speaker

Dr. Johnnetta Cole will be the speaker at Gettysburg's graduation on May 21

Dr. Johnnetta Cole will be the speaker at Gettysburg’s graduation on May 21

By Benjamin Pontz, News Editor

Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole has been announced as the graduation speaker for Gettysburg’s 182nd annual commencement, which will be held May 21.

Cole, who recently retired as director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, will also receive an honorary degree.

“We are honored to have Dr. Cole speak at this year’s Commencement.  She is a role model for all of us,” said President Janet Morgan Riggs in a press release from the college.

Gettysburg will also grant honorary degrees to Rev. Michael L. Cooper-White,president of Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, and Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chairman of vaccines at GlaxoSmithKline. Cooper-White and Slaoui will retire from their respective posts later this year.

Cole is an advocate of diversity and a pioneer in education, having served as the first female president of Spelman College in addition to a tenure as president of Bennett College. She has received 64 honorary degrees over the years, and she is the Presidential Distinguished Professor Emerita at Emory University in Atlanta.

“It is incredible to hear that someone of Dr. Cole’s caliber will be giving our commencement speech,” said senior Mariam Aghayan. “She has been a trailblazer and has continuously addressed issues of inequality.”

Aghayan went onto express hope that Cole would address inequality and diversity in the address.

Riggs closed her statement by commenting that Cole excels at creating a context to embrace and celebrate diversity.

“I am certain that her message will resonate with our graduates,” she said.

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Author: Benjamin Pontz

Benjamin Pontz '20 serves as managing news editor of The Gettysburgian, a position he has held since the middle of his first year. In four semesters, he has written more than 100 articles on topics ranging from student activism on campus to sports. Ben previously served as the event coverage and social media coordinator and led the paper's inaugural efforts using Facebook Live and live tweeting events on campus. Aside from The Gettysburgian, he is a peer research mentor in Musselman Library, a research assistant in the political science department, and drum major of the Bullets Marching Band. He is a political science and public policy double major with a minor in music, and he reads up to seven newspapers daily. Follow him on Twitter @benpontz.

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