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Pomona College Holds 115th Commencement: Producer/Director Alex Gibney Will Be Keynote Speaker

Pomona College, one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges, will hold its 115th Commencement Exercises at 10 am, on May 18, on Marston Quad (located between 4th and 6th Streets in Claremont). Approximately 380 members of the Class of 2008 will receive their undergraduate degrees.Alex Gibney, an Oscar and Emmy award-winning film producer and director, will deliver the keynote address. He won the 2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary for Taxi to the Dark Side, which follows the story of a taxi driver picked up by the U.S. military in Afghanistan. Gibney wrote, directed and produced the film, a triple duty he also performed on the Oscar-nominated film Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and the upcoming Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. He has also served as a producer on several films, including No End in Sight and Who Killed the Electric Car? Gibney is the son of the late Frank Gibney, who founded the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College.

Peter Stanley, Pomona College’s eighth president; composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen; and professor Ingrid Rowland ’74 will also speak briefly during the ceremony.

Peter Stanley served as Pomona’s president from 1991 to 2003. He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Harvard University and was a Frank Knox Memorial Fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge University. Prior to working at Pomona, he taught American and American-East Asian History at Harvard and the University of Illinois, Chicago; served as dean of the college at Carleton College; and headed The Ford Foundation’s Education and Culture Program. Stanley is currently vice president of the executive search firm Isaacson, where he helps to identify and recruit leaders for colleges and art institutions.

Award-winning composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen has served as musical director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 1992 and, for the 2008-09 season, will be the principal conductor and artistic advisor for the Philharmonia Orchestra in London. During his tenure at the L.A. Phil, the orchestra has established itself at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and held residencies at the Salzburg Festival, the Köln Philharmonic and the Théâtre du Châtlet in Paris. Salonen has an extensive recorded discography of both his own works and pieces by other composers, including Schumann and Mahler.

Ingrid D. Rowland ’74 is a professor at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture in Rome. She received her undergraduate degree in classics from Pomona and went on to earn her M.A. and Ph.D. in Greek literature and classical archeology from Bryn Mawr. Rowland has been a professor at several universities, including UCLA, UC Irvine, Columbia University and The University of Chicago. She is the author of several books, including The Scarith of Scornello: A Tale of Renaissance Forgery, From Heaven to Arcadia: The Sacred and the Profane in the Renaissance and the upcoming Caravaggio in One Square Mile. Rowland is also a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books.

Additionally, film director Sylvain White ’98 will be on campus to speak at Class Day, a day of celebration for all seniors, their families and friends, which occurs on May 17. White directed the 2007 film Stomp the Yard. While at Pomona, he founded Studio 47 to create news to air on the cable access channel at The Claremont Colleges.

Pomona College, founded in 1887, offers a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.