New College of Florida will award diplomas to an expected 184 graduates in a commencement ceremony at 7:00 p.m. Friday, May 18. It will be the 52nd graduating class in the College’s history.
Commencement is planned for the College’s bayfront, but in case of inclement weather it will be moved to an indoor location to be announced.
The commencement speaker and recipient of an honorary degree will be Dr. Margee M. Ensign, president of Dickinson College and a 1977 graduate of New College.
The graduating class includes three Fulbright award winners and two Goldwater Scholarship recipients. The latter are awarded in the junior year to the nation’s top science students. The class also is notable for including the first cohort of Daughters for Life Scholars, students from the Middle East supported by community donors and the Daughters for Life Foundation.
Student speakers are Fulbright recipient Miles Iton, from Homestead, Fla.; Daughters for Life Scholar Leen al-Fatafta, from Amman, Jordan; and Giulia Heyward, from Miami, editor of the New College student newspaper, the Catalyst.
Most of the 184 graduates are headed to leading master’s and doctoral programs at schools including the University of Michigan, Indiana University, and University of Florida. Others are going into jobs in fields like education, journalism and government.
While New College is known as a liberal arts institution, with nationally recognized programs in the humanities and social sciences, more than 30 percent of students majored in the sciences or mathematics, areas commonly known as STEM fields.
About Commencement Speaker Dr. Margee Ensign
Margee Ensign
Ensign was appointed president of Dickinson College in July 2017, after seven years as president of the American University of Nigeria.
Her successes at AUN were tremendous: Overseeing the development of a sustainable campus and the continent’s leading digital library, establishing a graduate school and a law school, and bringing international leaders to AUN’s board.
Just as significant were her achievements in the community. In response to the Boko Haram insurgency crisis, she co-founded the Adamawa Peace Initiative in 2010. The coalition maintained peace through education, empowerment and community development, and fed more than 270,000 refugees who had fled the fighting. In September 2017, a program she established at AUN welcomed dozens of women who had escaped from Boko Haram militants. She has now established a program at Dickinson for people from conflict regions; four women who escaped Boko Haram are pursuing their education there.
In 2015, the Women of Jama’atu Nasril Islam in Nigeria recognized Ensign for her contributions to leadership, philanthropy and education of women and girls in northeast Nigeria. She has received many other awards for her leadership in education in Africa.
Ensign received both her master’s degree in political science and her Ph.D. in international politics and economics from the University of Maryland. She graduated from New College in 1977. In an interview last year, she attributed her perspectives to “the influence of New College, which is so profound in my life.”
Ensign will receive the degree of doctor of humane letters.

Founded in Sarasota in 1960, New College of Florida is a top-ranked public liberal arts college and the state’s Honors College of Florida. New College prepares intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement by providing a highly individualized education that integrates academic rigor with career-building experiences. New College offers 45 undergraduate majors in arts, humanities and sciences, a master’s degree program in data science, and certificates in technology, finance, and business skills.

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