News & Publications
Athletic Director to Speak at St. John’s 219th Commencement
FOR RELEASE: May 4, 2011
CONTACT: Patricia Dempsey, 410-626-2539
*The 2011 Annapolis commencement ceremonies will be held indoors in the Francis Scott Key Auditorium due to rain.
Eighty-eight St. John’s College seniors, having completed their senior essays and defended them in oral examinations, are expected to receive their diplomas at the college’s 219th commencement ceremony held on the front lawn of St. John’s College’s Annapolis campus on Sunday, May 15, at 10:30 a.m. Thirty-six students from the Graduate Institute in Liberal Education will receive their master’s degrees. This year Athletic Director Leo Pickens, class of 1978, will deliver the commencement address.
In 2009, Mr. Pickens received the St. John's College Alumnus of Merit award for his dedication as a coach and mentor. When Mr. Pickens returned to his alma mater, St. John’s College, in 1988 to run the athletics program, he brought a passion for the democratic learning that is at the heart of this distinctive liberal arts college. His coaching philosophy mirrors this. The college’s co-ed intramural program is all-inclusive and the once-fledgling crew program—the college had only one rowing shell when Leo arrived as athletics director—has flourished under his steady direction. Today the Johnnies row in intercollegiate competitions and host regattas against community teams such as the Annapolis Rowing Club.
“It's a great honor and I'm deeply humbled to be the commencement speaker,” says Mr. Pickens. “I'm so grateful to be able to share this day in such a fashion with this particular class which boasted a very strong presence on our playing fields, in the gym, and on the water.”
In crew, Mr. Pickens has raced as a master in the single, double, four, and eight. He has also been a long distance cyclist, completing the 1995 Paris-Brest-Paris Randonnee. In addition, the tight-knit St. John’s crew team and Leo’s spirited practice regimen at dawn inform some of the more memorable moments in the book, “Racing Odysseus,” written by a former college president who attended St. John’s later in life and rowed with Leo.
The college’s commencement ceremonies are simple and rich with tradition. One of the college’s longest-serving tutors leads a procession of faculty and students to the ceremony on the tree-lined front lawn. The procession is accompanied by the familiar “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1.” A handful of prizes and honorable mentions are awarded before each student is given a diploma and congratulated by President Christopher B. Nelson.
Graduating seniors come from 26 states and 4 foreign countries. Eleven of the master candidates and 14 of this year’s graduating seniors are Maryland residents. The seniors from Maryland include: James Abraham Russell, of Annapolis; Junia Rosabel Cho, of Laurel; Daniel Paul Dausman, of Brookeville; Kevin Michael Finson, of Glen Arm; Colin Michael Forhan, of Takoma Park; William Craig Kunkel, of Glenn Dale; Sarah Elizabeth Miller, of Bethesda; Shannon Mulloy, of Gaithersburg; Joshua Wayne Paul, of Fort Meade; Tiemar M. Teclemariam, of Silver Spring; Hannah Elizabeth Stahl, of Baltimore; Thomas Peter Myers, of Ellicott City; Gillian Campbell Moloney, of Rockville; and Martin Luke Greenwald, of Bethesda.
In case of rain, commencement exercises will take place in Francis Scott Key Auditorium, where admission will be by ticket only and limited to immediate family of the graduates. From 10:15 a.m. to noon, College Avenue will be closed to traffic from St. John’s Street to King George Street; the first block of Prince George Street will be closed as well.