Pomona College announces Class of 2021 commencement, virtual ceremony for June 6

People wearing black caps and gown sit under blue and white streamers.
Pomona College announces a virtual commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021 set for June 6, 2021. (Courtesy: Pomona College)

Plans to celebrate the class of 2021 at Pomona College are well underway with a virtual commencement ceremony set for June 6, 2021 featuring timed broadcasts through an online platform, according to an email by President G. Gabrielle Starr and other Pomona administrators.

Prior to the broadcasts on June 6, the 2021 commencement website will become available to pre-registered graduates, families and friends June 5. The website will include videos, photos and additional memories of the graduating class and run until June 20, according to the website’s registration page.

Pomona is still planning for an in-person celebration for the class of 2020 and the class of 2021 in May or June 2022, should county health guidelines allow it. 

The email also announced this year’s commencement speakers: health care activist and lawyer Ady Barkan; world-renowned music conductor Gustavo Dudamel and former executive editor of The New York Times Bill Keller PO ’70. All three will be recognized with an honorary degree by the college.

Barkan is the founding director of the 2014 Fed Up campaign at the Center for Popular Democracy, an American advocacy group that promotes progressive politics. The campaign — which allied with the working class and resisted rising interest rates from the Federal Reserve — landed him on Politico 50’s list of innovators that year. 

Barkan co-founded the Be A Hero fund after his ALS diagnosis in 2016, which works to increase access to health care across the United States. The political action committee of the Be A Hero fund engaged Democratic presidential candidates prior to the 2020 elections, including now President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren. Barkan also spoke at the Democratic National Convention later that year.

Dudamel is the music and artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. A lifelong advocate for music education and social development through art, Dudamel founded the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles in 2007, which provides young people with free instruments, intensive music instruction and academic support. 

Keller is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former editor-in-chief of The Marshall Project, a nonpartisan online journalism organization covering criminal justice in the United States. 

His eight years as executive editor at the Times saw the publication win 18 Pulitzer Prizes. Through the late 1980s, Keller was a Times correspondent in Moscow covering the collapse of the Soviet Union, after which he covered the end of white rule in South Africa as chief of The New York Times bureau in Johannesburg.

Keller’s daughter graduated from Pomona in 2019, and he himself is an emeritus member of the Pomona Board of Trustees.

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