Mary Baldwin College’s 171st Commencement ceremony
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Barbara Kares Page Terrace on the main campus in Staunton, Virginia (Rain
Location: Expoland, Fishersville, VA)
The Hon. Pamela Shell Baskervill '75
Judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit
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.