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Pomona College Announces Speakers for 118th Commencement

Steven Chu, secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy

Steven Chu, secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy

Pomona College, one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges, will hold its 118th Commencement Exercises at 10 a.m., on Sunday May 15, on Marston Quadrangle (located between 4th and 6th streets in Claremont). During the ceremony, approximately 390 members of the Class of 2011 will receive their undergraduate degrees.

Steven Chu, secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy, will deliver the principal commencement address. As Secretary of Energy, he is charged with helping to implement an ambitious agenda that includes increasing investment in clean energy, reducing the country’s dependence on foreign oil, addressing global climate change and helping to create new jobs. Prior to his appointment, he was director of the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he led the pursuit of alternative and renewable energy technology. He is particularly known for his research in cooling and trapping atoms with laser light, for which he was a co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics. His research covers the areas of atomic physics, quantum electronics, and polymer and biophysics. He holds 10 patents and is the author of more than 250 scientific and technical papers. Chu has served as professor of physics and applied physics at Stanford University; professor of physics, molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley; and head of the Quantum Electronics Research Department at Bell Laboratories.

Edwin Krupp, Class of 1966; Douglas Preston, Class of 1978; and Judy Burton will also speak briefly during the ceremony and receive honorary degrees.

Judy Burton is president and chief executive officer of the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, a non-profit, charter management organization aimed at promoting high achievement and college enrollment among children from disadvantaged communities. Based in Los Angeles, the Alliance currently includes 18 small, public high schools and middle schools, with approximately 6,000 students, more than 90 percent of who are Latina/o or African American and are from low-income families. Prior to her current position, Burton served as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) largest local district, serving more than 80,000 students in pre-K through 12th grade.  She previously served as the assistant superintendent, heading the LAUSD’s Office of School Reform. She began her career in education as a teacher and principal. In 2010, she received a James Irvine Leadership Award, given in recognition of “extraordinary individuals [who] have created successful models we can, and should, replicate across our state,” according to the James Irvine Foundation.

Edwin Krupp ’66 is an astronomer and the director of the Griffith Observatory, in Los Angeles. He began his career at the iconic observatory as a planetarium lecturer and in 1972 was appointed curator, responsible for the fabrication and design of major museum exhibits. Two years later, he became director. One of his early projects was to develop long-term strategy for the renovation and renewal of the facility, which opened in 1935. Ultimately, this led to the $93 million renovation of the Griffith Observatory, from 2002-2006. Throughout his career, Krupp has been known for his embrace of the latest technology to better serve the Observatory’s audience, his promotion of astronomy to the general public, and his extensive publications on astronomical and science education topics. His award-winning books include In Search of Ancient Astronomies and Archaeoastronomy and the Roots of Science. He has also contributed to numerous other volumes, lectures frequently on astronomical topics and has led dozens of field study and eclipse viewing tours around the globe.

Douglas Preston ’78 is a journalist and the best-selling author. He is the author of five non-fiction books, including The Monster of Florence whose movie rights were sold to Fox 2010, and is the author or co-author with Lincoln Child, of 21 fiction books. The most recent, Gideon’s Sword, was published in February. He began his writing career as an editor for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, later writing a column in Natural History Magazine and becoming managing editor of Curator Quarterly. In 1985, he wrote Dinosaurs in the Attic about the explorers and expeditions in the Museum’s early days. As a journalist, he has published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Smithsonian, Natural History and National Geographic, among other magazines.

Pomona College, founded in 1887, offers a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.