New College of Florida will award diplomas to an expected 181 students in a sunset ceremony on the College’s historic Bayfront at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, May 26. It will be the 51st graduation in New College’s history.
This year’s commencement speaker and recipient of an honorary degree will be the noted composer and scholar George E. Lewis, the Edwin H. Case professor of American music at Columbia University.
The graduating class includes one Fulbright award winner, a recipient of a U.S. State Department Gilman Scholarship, and many other students headed to the nation’s top universities for graduate studies.
While New College is known as a liberal arts institution, with nationally recognized programs in humanities and social sciences, it is noteworthy that more than 40 percent of this year’s graduating students majored in the sciences or mathematics, areas commonly called “STEM” fields.
The 174 undergraduates will receive the degree of bachelor of arts. The ceremony also is notable as the first for New College’s graduate program; seven students will receive a master’s degree in data science.
George E. Lewis is a composer, trombonist, improviser, and innovator, and a historian and theorist of experimental music, improvised music, and jazz.
Lewis received a MacArthur Fellowship, commonly called a “Genius Grant,” in 2002. He was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2015, and has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a United States Artists Walker Fellowship, an Alpert Award in the Arts, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, Lewis’s work in electronic and computer music, computer-based multimedia installations, and notated and improvisative forms is documented on more than 140 recordings.
His book, “A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music” (University of Chicago Press, 2008), received the American Book Award and the American Musicological Society’s Music in American Culture Award.
Lewis is co-editor of the two-volume Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies (2016), and his opera “Afterword,” commissioned by the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago, premiered at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in October 2015 and has been performed in the United States, United Kingdom and the Czech Republic.
Lewis first visited New College in 2012, when he presented a lecture and participated in a panel discussion as part of New Music New College’s “Meeting of the Minds” festival. New College is delighted to welcome him back to deliver the commencement address.
He will receive the degree of doctor of humane letters, honoris causa, from New College.
About the ceremony
Members of the undergraduate class had 70 different areas of concentration, or majors, ranging from agroecology to visual and critical studies. The most common was biology, with 15 graduating students.
Commencement will include a tribute to Professor of Biology Al Beulig, who is retiring after 42 years of teaching at New College.
The ceremony will feature musical performances by the New Cats, the College’s long-running student jazz band.
There will be a reception sponsored by the New College Student Alliance on the Bayfront immediately following commencement.
In case of inclement weather, commencement will be held at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Boulevard, in Palmetto.