Emerson sends over 1,000 grads into the world

Emerson’s associate dean of students, Sharon Duffy, informed the graduating Shanae Rebecca Burch of Minotola, N.J., that she was the recipient of the Dean’s Award.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Emerson’s associate dean of students, Sharon Duffy, informed the graduating Shanae Rebecca Burch of Minotola, N.J., that she was the recipient of the Dean’s Award.

It was not the sunniest day — but it was one for celebration and inspiration nonetheless, as more than 1,000 Emerson College students received undergraduate and graduate degrees Sunday morning.

The students filed into the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center for the college’s 133d commencement ceremony, wearing black robes and mortarboards, each with a shiny 2013 charm hanging from purple-and-gold tassels.


“Today marks the end of one thing and the beginning of another,” president M. Lee Pelton said at the ceremonies.

Max Mutchnick, a 1987 graduate of the college and cocreator of the television show “Will & Grace,” delivered the undergraduate address.

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In 2006, Mutchnick donated the “Will & Grace” apartment set to Emerson’s Iwasaki Library.

Debbie Allen, an actress and choreographer who is noted for her role on the TV series “Fame,” (she also had a part in the 1980 movie) gave the graduate address during a separate afternoon ceremony.

“What you gonna do now?” Allen asked the graduate students, after doing a little dance on stage. “Whatever it is, make it funky.”


Emerson awarded honorary degrees to Mutchnick and Allen as well as former US poet laureate Rita Dove and philanthropist Eugene Lang.

Throughout the ceremony, students flooded social media networks, quoting words of wisdom from the speakers, snapping pictures of friends walking across the stage, or capturing Pelton’s speech to the graduates, where he held up one of the blue and yellow “Boston Strong” shirts designed by two Emerson students and remembered a tumultuous school year in Boston which included a bombing, a hurricane, and a severe snowstorm.

“Believe in your power to make of this old world, a new world,” Pelton said. “Make no small plans, because as someone once said, small plans don’t create the magic that stir the souls of women and men.”

At the end of the commencement, more pictures exploded online when excited students began posting photographs of their newly received diplomas along with bright purple “Emerson College Alumni” T-shirts that were gifts to the graduates—marking their new role in the college community.

Sarah N. Mattero can be reached at
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