When Kenneth Lauzier, supervisor of landscape and grounds, was asked recently if he could provide any information that illustrates the hard work he and his team have been doing to help prepare the College for Commencement on May 28, he offered numbers related to beautifying campus, collecting student donations and setting up for the weekend’s activities, among other efforts. (More on that below.) But he also offered a data point pertaining to his crew’s energy levels.

“Commencement comes every 52 weeks whether we’re ready for it or not,” he said. As such, it’s reasonable to estimate that his team drinks hundreds of gallons of coffee to “maintain alertness” throughout Commencement season, he noted wryly.

The caffeine consumption of Lauzier’s team is of course not uncommon this time of year. Given the all-hands-on-deck approach to coordinating an Amherst Commencement, many fellow employees are likely sipping coffee at increased rates. Members of the community devote innumerable hours to cooking meals, scrubbing floors, grading papers, writing inspirational speeches, rolling diplomas and so much more. It’s hard to quantify the time–or the care, for that matter–that goes into pulling off the College’s annual celebration for the graduates, but we’ll give it a shot.

Here are just a few numbers related to Amherst’s 2023 Commencement Weekend and, most importantly, the graduating seniors themselves.

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The Graduating Seniors

  • Number of students receiving degrees this year: 483
  • Number of transfer students: 17
  • States represented by this year’s graduates: 41 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., among them Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevado, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and West Virginia
  • Nations represented: 25. Students came to Amherst from Canada, China, Croatia, Ecuador, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Sudan and Syria, among other locations.
  • Continents represented: Six. (Maybe next year, Antarctica?)
  • Most-declared majors: Computer science, economics, math and statistics, psychology, and political science
  • Number of graduating seniors with more than one major: 250. 238 of those are double majors, 11 are triple and one is a quadruple.
  • Senior theses completed: 209, representing nearly 45% of the class
  • Fulbright Award winners: Six, with four others named as alternates
  • Total number of college courses taken by members of the class over four years, including those taken at UMass and Smith, Mount Holyoke and Hampshire Colleges: 14,993
  • Appearances by Amherst teams or individuals in NCAA Division III contests or squash postseason competition: 40
  • New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) team titles won by members of the class of 2023: Nine
  • Individual player NESCAC titles: Six
  • Cumulative win-loss-tie record for the graduating student-athletes over their academic careers: 712–339–32
  • Record against Williams College: 45–43–2
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Group portrait of part of the class of 2019
Members of the graduating class at a gathering during their Orientation in 2019.

Commencement Weekend and Exercises

  • 2023 Commencement speakers: Two. The ceremony will include addresses by College President Michael A. Elliott and senior Quentin Jeyaretnam, who was voted the student speaker by his classmates
  • Honorary degrees awarded during the ceremony: Seven. They will go to:
  • Conway Canes awarded during the weekend: 483. Every Amherst graduate receives a walking stick at Commencement. The canes are a 19th-century College tradition that was revived and reshaped by the class of 2003 to celebrate class unity and spirit. Now known as the Conway Canes in honor of a gift from Brian J. Conway ’80 and Kevin J. Conway ’80 to endow the Fund for College Canes, the canes are presented to all Amherst seniors to mark their graduation and to serve as an enduring symbol of their connection to their class, to a unique tradition and to their alma mater.
  • Pounds of gnocchi, watermelon and romaine lettuce served at various meals throughout the weekend: 400. Other pounds of food served include 800 of chicken breasts, 200 of red potatoes and 160 of broccoli.  
  • Acres mowed the week of Commencement: 120 with large ride-on mowers, five with remote-controlled mowers and three with string trimmers
  • Tables set up in various locations around campus: 1,000
  • Linen tablecloths and napkins used: 2,000
  • Chairs set up across campus: 8,000
  • Donations of clothing, furniture and other items from students that will be repurposed or given to local organizations: 100 dump truck loads
  • Residence halls cleaned from top to bottom to house guests of the graduates during the weekend: Nine
  • Gallons of disinfectant used: 48 gallons. In addition, custodial crews will use 600 sponges, 48 gallons of neutral cleaner and 12,000 gloves to make campus clean.
  • Non-graduating students employed to help with aforementioned cleaning: 88
  • Graduates, friends and family members spending the weekend in the Town of Amherst to celebrate Commencement: Approximately 5,000
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