Commencement

Welcome to Commencement 2018, June 1-2

We look forward to welcoming family and friends of the Bennington class of 2018 to campus June 1–2, 2018. Come enjoy a weekend of memorable activities celebrating the achievements of this year’s graduates! Please see Information for Graduates below for full details.

We are delighted to announce choreographer and activist Liz Lerman as this year’s Commencement Speaker. Liz is a choreographer, performer, writer, educator, and speaker, a MacArthur “Genius” grant recipient, and the winner of the 2017 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, among other honors. Through her art, Liz engages the urgent questions with which we are all grappling: social justice, working across differences, poverty, the impacts of war, scientific advancement, and what it means to be in a community. Her work ranges from abstract to personal to political, and her process emphasizes research and collaboration across disciplines and media.

Lauren Omokheoa '18 will be the Senior Class Speaker. Lauren has had a remarkable trajectory to and at Bennington, marked by equal parts intellectual and personal growth. Through music, she discovered her deep interest in Africana Studies which informed her Plan and influenced her choice to study African Studies at Cambridge next year. Her forward momentum—her research, her work ethic, her ambition—is fed by consistent reflection. She is able to channel frustration into progress, to face difficult truths while maintaining optimism and generosity of spirit.

Enjoy our coverage from 2017.

Information for Graduates and Families 

Following are several details to help you plan:

  • Accommodations. I encourage you to make hotel reservations as soon as possible, as accommodations tend to book quickly during this busy time of year. For information about local accommodations, please visit our website.

  • Commencement Dinner | Friday, June 1, 6:00 pm. Addresses by the commencement speaker and senior class speaker will take place over dinner. To accommodate all graduates, their families, and faculty in a single seating, tickets are limited to four (4) guests per graduate. Tickets registration is now closed.

  • Conferring of Degrees | Saturday, June 2, 10:00 am sharp! The awarding of degrees is open seating; no ticket is required.

  • Invitations. Four (4) complimentary invitations will be distributed to graduates in late April.

  • Diploma Frames. Diploma frames will be available for purchase in the Bennington College bookstore. For more information, please call the bookstore at 802-440-4361.

  • Commencement Fee. The $80 graduation fee helps offset the cost of your graduate’s dinner, diploma and cover, and any necessary cap and gown rental. This fee will be billed in the spring.

Commencement Schedule

Wednesday, May 30

  • 6:00 pm | Commencement Rehearsal, Barn 100

Friday, June 1

  • 2:00 pm | Senior Dance Concert, Martha Hill Dance Theater 
  • 3:00 pm | Graduation Concert, Greenwall Auditorium
  • 5:00 pm | Welcome Reception, Commons Lawn
  • 6:00 pm | Commencement Dinner, under the tent, Commons Lawn
  • 7:00 pm | Commencement Addresses, under the tent
  • 9:00–Midnight | Senior Party, Student Center

Saturday, June 2

  • 10:00 am sharp | Conferring of Degrees, Barn Quadrangle (rain location: under the tent)
    Light refreshments will follow, under the tent  

More information to follow so please check the schedule again later. 

Past Coverage

Past Commencement Speakers

  • 2017 | Cornell William Brooks
  • 2016 | Jane Chu
  • 2015 | Gloria Steinem
  • 2014 | Dr. Johnnetta Cole
  • 2013 | Elizabeth Coleman
  • 2012 | Peter Dinklage ’91
  • 2011 | Tim Daly ’79
  • 2010 | Melissa Rosenberg ’86
  • 2009 | Hendrick Hertzberg
  • 2008 | Rebecca Tinsley
  • 2007 | Mac Maharaj
  • 2006 | Glen Van Brummelen
  • 2005 | Jonathan Lethem ’86
  • 2004 | Shirin Ebadi
  • 2003 | Edith Velmans
  • 2002 | Meredith Monk
  • 2001 | Rick Moody
  • 2000 | Gay McDougall ’69
  • 1999 | Peter Hedges
  • 1998 | Linda Wertheimer
  • 1997 | Jane Alexander
  • 1996 | Mark Gearan
  • 1995 | Irene Borger ’71
  • 1994 | Harvey Lichtenstein ’53
  • 1993 | Kay Crawford Murray ’56
  • 1992 | Harvey Fierstein
  • 1991 | Harvey Gantt
  • 1990 | Joan Tower ’61
  • 1989 | Ellen McCulloch-Lovell ’69
  • 1988 | Elizabeth Frank ’67
  • 1987 | Barbara Lazear Ascher ’68
  • 1986 | Tillie Olsen
  • 1985 | Elizabeth Swados ’73
  • 1984 | Howard Nemerov
  • 1983 | Frederick Wiseman
  • 1982 | Joseph S. Murphy
  • 1981 | Bernard Malamud
  • 1980 | Elizabeth Swados ’73
  • 1979 | Vivian Gornick
  • 1978 | Mitchell Markowitz ’75
  • 1977 | Elizabeth Holtzman
  • 1976 | Joseph S. Iseman
  • 1975 | Carol Channing ’42
  • 1974 | Thomas Brockway
  • 1973 | Senior readings and performance
  • 1972 | Jimmy Garrison
  • 1971 | Anaïs Nin
  • 1970 | Kurt Vonnegut
  • 1969 | Denise Levertov
  • 1968 | Thomas P.F. Hoving
  • 1967 | Russell Baker
  • 1966 | Howard Nemerov
  • 1965 | Gene Baro
  • 1964 | William Sloane Coffin, Jr.
  • 1963 | David Riesman
  • 1962 | Kenneth Burke
  • 1961 | Henri Peyre
  • 1960 | Francis Fergusson
  • 1959 | George Boas
  • 1958 | Jacques Barzun
  • 1957 | Alvin Eurich
  • 1956 | Howard M. Jones
  • 1955 | W. Averell Harriman P ’40
  • 1954 | Franklin Ford
  • 1953 | Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
  • 1952 | Harry Allen Overstreet
  • 1951 | Mary Josephine Shelly
  • 1950 | Reinhold Niebuhr
  • 1949 | Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey
  • 1948 | Erich Fromm
  • 1947 | Lewis Webster Jones
  • 1946 | Reinhold Niebuhr
  • 1945 | Justice Frank Murphy
  • 1944 | Alexander Meiklejohn
  • 1943 | Robert D. Leigh
  • 1942 | William Batt
  • 1941 | Robert Lynd
  • 1940 | Henry Wallace
  • 1939 | Dorothy Canfield Fischer
  • 1938 | Frederick Lewis Allen
  • 1937 | W.H. Kilpatrick
  • 1936 | No commencement speaker