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Commencement Weekend 2019 – May 17-19

Ambassador Susan E. Rice Presents Class Day Address

The Fletcher School celebrated its 16th annual Class Day leading into the full Tufts University graduation exercises. Class Day included the presentation of student and administrator awards and a greeting from alumnus Vikram Mehta (F79). Ambassador Susan E. Rice, the former national security advisor to President Barack Obama and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was awarded the Dean’s Medal and presented the Class Day address.

“Susan Rice has been a highly influential player in U.S. foreign policy,” remarked Dean ad interim Ian Johnstone. “She’s respected for her keen intellect; broad grasp of a range of issues, which challenged not only the United States but the global community; and her willingness to make tough decisions, well aware that principled leadership on foreign policy is not for the timid or faint of heart.”

Ambassador Rice began her address with an honest account of her preparation for the event.

“Until a few days ago, I planned to deliver an erudite treatment of one of the most pressing foreign policy questions of the moment. And then I thought again. How complicated. How depressing…I decided not to spend your precious time gazing into a crystal ball,” Rice said. “Instead I’ll focus on something about which I have a lot more certainty, and that you have complete ability to control. That is, how can each of you develop into the best leader possible?”

From her writing and reflection on her own experiences with leadership, Rice delivered five lessons for success: First, devote all or part of your career to service. “While the forms of service are nearly infinite, the purpose is constant,” she said. “To leave others, your country and the world better than you found it.”

Second, effective leadership requires patience. “Leadership is a team sport, not a solo act,” she remarked. A leader’s impact is increased by taking time to listen, to solicit feedback, and to enlist the buy-in of key stakeholders.

Rice’s third piece of advice was about the importance of integrity. “You have to be honest, trustworthy, and shoot straight to be respected and effective,” she said. “The team must know that it’s not about you. It’s about your shared mission and your shared success.”

Fourth, you need to know who you are and be confident in your abilities. Rice encouraged graduating students to develop a thick skin now, before it is needed, and reminded them that merit is often not enough. “It’s not enough to be best in class. You also need people in your corner who will support you. In other words, relationships matter.”

Finally, on a more personal note, Rice emphasized that nothing is more important than family and encouraged graduates to nurture and prioritize their family and friends.  

“This is a very big milestone and you should be deeply proud,” Rice concluded. She closed by imparting the responsibility on the Fletcher Class of 2019 to seek to become the, “wise and principled leadership that our world so badly needs.”


Ian Johnstone, dean ad interim, and the faculty and staff of The Fletcher School cordially invite you and your guests to the annual Commencement Weekend exercises and events of The Fletcher School to be held from May 17-19, 2019.

All graduates are expected to participate in the Saturday Class Day Ceremony and both parts of Sunday’s Commencement ceremonies: the All-University Commencement and The Fletcher School ceremony.  We hope that graduates and families will consider attending the Friday evening lobster bake and the luncheon receptions on both Saturday and Sunday.  A full schedule of the weekend’s activities will be available at a later date.

* The Class of 2019 includes both graduating students who will march and receive degrees and those who are members of the class but who have not yet completed all degree requirements. Members of the class of 2019 who will not receive degrees are still encouraged to march in the Saturday Class Day ceremony as well as the All University Commencement (Phase 1) on Sunday morning.  During Phase 2, Fletcher Commencement (11:15 on Sunday), only those who will be receiving their degree or have permission are able to march.  Permission to march without completing all degree requirements is as follows:  For those in the M.A. or LL.M. degree programs, no more than one degree requirement can be outstanding. For those in the MALD or MIB degree programs, no more than two degree requirements can be outstanding.

Members of the class of 2019 who will not be graduating are welcome and indeed encouraged to attend all the events of the weekend.

The following information about the ceremonies should assist you in planning your participation.

Saturday, May 18

The Fletcher Class Day Ceremony

The Fletcher School’s class day ceremony begins at 11:30am (assembly at 11:15am).

The ceremony will include:

  • Entrance processional
  • Dean’s welcome
  • Songs by the Ambassachords
  • Alumni greeting by Vikram Mehta (F79) Chairman & Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, India
  • Presentation of the Administrator of the Year Award to Lupita Ervin
  • Presentation of the Robert B. Stewart Prize to an outstanding first-year Fletcher student
  • Presentation of the Edmund A. Gullion Prize to an outstanding second-year Fletcher student
  • Presentation of the Leo Gross Prize to a student who has excelled in the law-related courses
  • Presentation of the Peter Ackerman award for an outstanding doctoral dissertation
  • Presentation of class gifts
  • Award of the Dean’s medal to Ambassador Susan Rice
  • Address by Ambassador Rice
  • Recessional

The ceremony will be held under a tent on Fletcher Field (between Mugar Hall and Professors Row) adjacent to the tennis courts. Graduates do not need to line up in alphabetical order nor wear gaps and gowns.  Business attire, military uniform, or national dress are appropriate.

Sunday, May 19

All-University Commencement Ceremony (Phase 1)

The All-University Commencement in which all schools participate includes the entrance processional, the awarding of honorary degrees by Schools including the official award of the Fletcher degree, by Dean ad interim Ian Johnstone, and the awarding of honorary degrees and the All-University Commencement Address by Alfre Woodard.

This ceremony will be held on the lawn between Ballou and Bendetson Halls. It is at this ceremony that Dean Johnstone asks our graduates to stand as a group and formally confers Fletcher degrees.   All Fletcher graduates are expected to participate.  Formation for the Fletcher School student procession will begin at 8:30 a.m. in Blakeley Courtyard.  There is no alphabetical marching order.

At 7:30am (before the All University Commencement Ceremony), a light breakfast for Fletcher students will be served under a tent in Blakeley courtyard and will include champagne toasts delivered by several members of the graduating class. Please arrive at the breakfast in cap and gown.

The Fletcher School Commencement Ceremony (Phase 2)
The Fletcher School will hold its diploma awarding ceremony at approximately 11:15 a.m., immediately after the All-University Ceremony ends.  It will be held under the same tent on Fletcher Field that was used for the Class Day ceremony.

All Spring 2019 Fletcher degree candidates and Fall 2018 degree recipients should assemble inside Blakeley Hall Courtyard by 11:15a.m. or immediately after the conclusion of the All-University ceremony, whichever occurs first.  For this ceremony graduates will march in alphabetical order.  Students who received degrees last Fall may march in the May ceremony if they have not marched in a prior commencement ceremony.

The ceremony will include:

  • Entrance processional
  • Dean’s welcome
  • Presentation of the James L. Paddock Teaching Award to Kimberly Theidon
  • Faculty address by Professor Kimberly Theidon
  • Remarks by Latifah Azlan and Pedro Cardenas Casillas selected by the class of 2019
  • Presentation of degrees to individual students and doctoral hooding
  • Closing remarks
  • Recessional

Saturday and Sunday Luncheon Receptions

Following both the Fletcher Class Day Ceremony on Saturday and the Fletcher Commencement Ceremony on Sunday there will be luncheon receptions for all members of the community and their families. The receptions will occur under the “lobster bake tent” on Fletcher Field, adjacent to the commencement ceremony tent.


Tickets are not needed for the Saturday and Sunday ceremonies nor are they needed for the Saturday and Sunday post-ceremony luncheon receptions.  Seating for guests at the ceremonies is on a first-come first served basis.  The tent is very large and easily accommodates all guests.  If you have guests who need special accommodations (i.e. use wheelchairs), please notify Mary Dulatre ASAP so that we can make special arrangements for their seating at

Friday Night May 17

Fletcher Lobster Bake
Students and their guests are invited to join the Fletcher community and Fletcher alumni at the annual alumni reunion lobster bake on Friday evening, May 17. The event will take place on Fletcher Field under a tent and will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are necessary to attend the lobster bake. For more information and to purchase tickets, please register on the Alumni website or you can contact Grace Roberts via email at or at 617-627-3086.

Academic Robes

All degree recipients are expected to be attired in appropriate academic robes for both Sunday ceremonies.

Ph.D. recipients should wear academic robes to receive their Ph.D. hoods.  The Ph.D. hoods will be provided by the school, and recipients will be “hooded” at The Fletcher School’s Sunday Commencement ceremony.  Academic robes can be purchased at most university bookstores.  If a Ph.D. recipient wishes to purchase a Tufts Ph.D. cap and gown, these will be available for $72.98 from the Bookstore on or after April 3rd. For those Ph.D. candidates unable to come to Medford before commencement, please call the Tufts University Bookstore at 617-627-5292 to either purchase or rent a cap and gown.

Caps, gowns, and hoods for Master’s recipients will be available for purchase beginning April 4th at the Bookstore.  Graduates need to wear all three items. Caps and gowns cost $60.9, hoods cost $42.50.  Rentals are available at the Bookstore for both Ph.D. and Master’s degree recipients and orders can be placed beginning on March 1st.  Rentals can be picked up from the Bookstore anytime after May 13th.

Photographs at the Fletcher School Commencement Ceremony

A professional photographer will take photos on Sunday as each graduate crosses the Fletcher stage and is congratulated by the Dean. To expedite the ceremony, it is important that the area in front of the stage be kept clear. Photographs will be posted online for review and purchase approximately one week following the ceremony. The URL will be announced via Fletcher’s faculty, staff and student listserves as soon as they are posted.


Because hotel and motel space in the Boston area is at a premium this time of year, we urge you to make your reservations as soon as possible if not already arranged.  The University’s Conference Bureau will provide on-campus dormitory housing. This year’s rates are $75.00 per night for a single and $95.00 per night for a double. To make a reservation, please contact the Conference Bureau, 108 Packard Avenue, on the Medford Campus at 617-627-3568 or fax at 617-627-3856.

Reservations for on-campus housing can be made via online registration starting February 1st, 2019 by going to:   There will be no refunds after 5:00pm on May 2nd, 2019.  All reservations must be received by 5:00pm on May 3, 2019.  Any changes to reservations resulting in a refund will be subject to a 10% processing fee.  If an online cancellation is received on or before 5:00pm on May 2nd, a full refund will be made, minus a 10% processing fee.  After 5:00pm, on May 2nd, all payments are non-refundable.

There are a number of hotels in the Boston area.  Please inquire with the hotels to see if they offer special Tufts rates.  Guests are urged to make reservations as soon as possible.


Given the large number of visitors to campus on commencement day, parking will be scarce.  Parking in all university lots will be on a first-come, first-serve basis so early arrival is recommended.  Parking will be available in the parking lot across from Cousens Gym, the Stearns Village lot between Cousens and Eliot-Pearson, and in the Dowling Hall parking garage on Boston Avenue.  Shuttle service will be available from College Avenue to the Commencement site from 7:00 a.m – 4:00 p.m.

In conclusion, if you have any questions about commencement weekend, please do not hesitate to contact Shelley Adams at 617-627-3085 or  We look forward to seeing you and your family and guests during the weekend.

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