Unity College will send 31 students forward as newly-minted graduates of America’s Environmental College tonight at Commencement exercises.

The ceremony culminating the Fall semester will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Tozier Gymnasium. Anyone not able to attend is invited to watch the ceremony via Facebook Live starting at 6:30.

“In this season of hope, with our students, staff, and faculty preparing for the joy of the holidays, it fills me pride to be able to present these hard-working students with Unity College degrees tonight,” Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury said.

“Commencement is a word that signals new beginnings. These newest Unity College alumni are well-prepared environmental leaders eager to help solve the most pressing environmental problems of the present and future,” he said. “We are proud of what they have achieved and expect to hear from them as they embark on the next exciting chapter in their lives.”

With growing enrollment, Khoury noted Fall commencement — typically held at the Unity Center for Performing Arts — has also grown, requiring use of the gymnasium as a new venue.

“We continue to attract transfer and nontraditional students, in addition to our record freshman enrollment,” he said, “so we have responded with a December event that has blossomed into an alternative graduation that better fits with our students schedules.”

In his remarks tonight, Khoury will tell graduates: “The world needs you more than we do.”

Here is an excerpt:

“In the fall I will meet the new students as they walk through those doors and take these seats for the first time as Unity College students. I will expect them to be amazing. Because you are amazing. I will expect them to be real. Because you are real.

“Commencement is one of the bittersweet moments in the life of a President. At Commencement I must balance my attachment to you, our graduating seniors — you, who I have watched grow; you, who make this place better just by being here — I must balance my attachment to you against the reality that the world needs you more than we do.

“And you need to be out there changing the world in amazing ways. This is the very essence of why Unity College exists: to prepare you to change the world.”

Built on a sustainability science curriculum recognized by the National Science Foundation,

America’s Environmental College set an all-time enrollment record this fall, with more than 700 full-time students on campus, nearly 10 percent more than enrolled last fall.

In addition to being known internationally for being the first U.S. college to divest from fossil fuels, Unity was the first college with a residence hall built to Passive House standards, known as TerraHaus; and the first with a president’s home, known as Unity House, to be certified LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Unity College also earned high rankings this year from the well-regarded U.S. News & World Report, Sierra Magazine, and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, which ranked Unity College No. 1 in the nation for sustainability in its finance and investment practices.

Unity College sets Commencement exercises every fall and spring. Spring commencement is scheduled for May 13, 2017.

Friday, December 16, 2016