Mary Baldwin College’s 172nd Commencement ceremony
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Barbara Kares Page Terrace on the main campus in Staunton, Virginia (Rain Location: Expoland, Fishersville, VA)
MBC COMMENCEMENT LORE:
In 1963, the scheduled Commencement speaker, Dr. Huston Smith from MIT, did not make it to Staunton in time for the event because of a delayed flight into the new Shenandoah Valley Airport. MBC President Sam Spencer stepped in as speaker and made a few brief remarks. Students liked the abbreviated speech so much that a tradition of not having a formal Commencement speaker lasted for many years.
A fast-moving storm made MBC Commencement in 1971 a memorable event. The ceremony was held outside, and it started as a beautiful Spring day. College President William Kelly hurried his concluding remarks as a dark, ominous cloud appeared over Hunt Dining Hall, but the event did not end before the storm arrived. The benediction and recessional were cut as people raced inside. The violent storm uprooted trees, downed power lines, and caused local flooding.
The following year, 1972, there was another unexpected Commencement crisis. As the 148 graduates and faculty lined up in the Administration Building to process to First Presbyterian Church, there was a warning from the Staunton Police Department saying they had received a bomb threat to the church. Everyone was evacuated, and graduation took place in the auditorium of King Building (the auditorium is no longer in the building) 30 minutes later. No explosives were discovered in the church.