Louis V. Gerstner Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of International Business Machines Corporation, will speak at Wake Forest University’s 1997 commencement ceremony this morning.
Approximately 1,348 undergraduate and graduate students will receive diplomas during the ceremony that begins at 9 a.m. on University Plaza.
Gerstner was named chairman and chief executive officer of IBM in 1993. Before joining IBM, Gerstner served four years as chairman and chief executive officer of RJR Nabisco Inc. He also spent 11 years with the American Express Company, where he served as president of the parent company and chairman and CEO of American Express Travel Related Services Company, its largest subsidiary.
Gerstner, who has received numerous awards for his work in education, co-authored the book, “Reinventing Education: Entrepreneurship in America’s Public Schools.” Gerstner also is a board member of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and serves on the board of regents for the Smithsonian Institute.
About 776 students are expected to receive bachelor’s degrees during commencement. Combined, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Law, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, and Babcock Graduate School of Management will award master’s and doctoral degrees to approximately 572 students.
Individuals receiving honorary degrees include Gerstner; Petro Kulynych, former chairman of Lowe’s Companies Inc. and a Wake Forest life trustee; Toni Morrison, a novelist; Phyllis Trible, a biblical scholar and former associate religion professor at Wake Forest; Dr. Jordan Jay Cohen, president of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC); and Cora Bagley Marrett, a social scientist and leading authority on race and ethnic relations.
Commencement activities began yesterday with a baccalaureate service at 11 a.m. in Wait Chapel featuring a baccalaureate sermon by Trible.
Trible is the Baldwin Professor of Sacred Literature at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Trible has held teaching positions at Andover Newton Theological School and Wake Forest (from 1963-1971). In addition, she has been a visiting professor at schools and universities around the world. She has a bachelor’s degree from Meredith College and a doctorate from Union Theological Seminary.
Hooding ceremonies for the professional schools were also held Sunday. Students received colorful hoods in the ceremonies to wear with their caps and gowns.
The law school’s hooding ceremony was at 1:45 p.m. in Wait Chapel. Alex Sanders, president of the College of Charleston, addressed the graduates. Sanders was chief judge of the South Carolina Court of Appeals and a former state legislator. He also taught law at the University of South Carolina and Harvard.
The medical school’s hooding ceremony was at 4:15 p.m. in Wait Chapel. Dr. Jordan J. Cohen, a medical educator for more than 30 years, addressed the graduating Bowman Gray students. In addition to his office with the AAMC, Cohen is the former medical school dean, president of the medical staff and director of the medical center for the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Winston-Salem resident Lisbeth C. Evans, chief executive officer, director and majority shareholder of BizNexus, spoke at the MBA school’s hooding ceremony at 7 p.m. in Wait Chapel. Evans, who serves on the university’s board of trustees, earned her bachelor’s degree and MBA from Wake Forest.
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