This year’s commencement speaker will be Deborah Bial, founder and president of the Posse Foundation.

Bial received her B.A. from Brandeis University, where she delivered the commencement address in 2012, and her M.A. and Ed.D. from Harvard University. She was honored with a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” for her work with Posse in 2007.

Founded by Bial in 1989, Posse recruits outstanding young leaders in urban school systems in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., Miami, Houston, and New Orleans, preparing them to succeed at some of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges. High-achieving students selected to participate in the program form supportive, multicultural teams, or “posses,” of 10 students to attend one of 55 partnering schools.

Centre began its partnership with the Boston office of the Posse Foundation in 2005, with the first class of scholars arriving on campus that fall. This year, then, marks the College’s tenth anniversary of its partnership with the organization.

Director of Communications Dr. Michael Strysick said that selecting a commencement speaker is “a challenge in its own way,” but the “stars aligned” in the efforts to bring Bial to campus this spring.

“At Centre, we are very proud to be affiliated with the Posse Foundation,” Dr. Strysick said. “The College has developed a great relationship with the foundation and with Deborah Bial, and we thought it would make perfect sense to celebrate this anniversary by having the founder of the Posse Foundation as our commencement speaker.”

Photo courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Photo courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Dr. Strysick noted that Centre’s partnership with the foundation has “continued to make the College a more diverse place.”

“Bial has such a strong commitment to providing leadership opportunities to young people, and knows all the ways in which the Posse Foundation has not just enriched the lives of Posse Scholars but how our society as a whole has been enriched by the work that they do when they serve their communities,” Dr. Strysick explained. “I could imagine her wanting to talk about that [at commencement], and the profound impact that the Posse program has had in bringing greater diversity to American higher education and to private liberal arts colleges.”

The news of the Commencement speaker has fostered positive support among the faculty and students, particularly those who have a strong connection to the foundation.

Senior Ashley Barker, a member of Centre Posse 7, is particularly thrilled that Bial will speak at graduation.

“It’s exciting to have the person who gave opportunities to students like myself, come to Centre and talk about the change she’s made in our world as well as how the scholars have affected her life,” she said. “It’s nice to know that someone who the Posse Scholars respect and who respects us, and who has given us this opportunity to do amazing things is talking to my senior class about change and about our future.”

Commencement for the Centre Class of 2016 will take place on Sunday, May 22 in Newlin Hall.

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