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With little security and a lot less solemnity than has been displayed in recent years, guest speakers Click and Clack will march under their own colors at MIT's 133rd Commencement this Friday.
Click and Clack, a.k.a. Thomas F. (SB 1958) and Raymond L. (SB 1972) Magliozzi, are expected to deliver a typically quirky and perhaps memorable address to about 2,400 graduates and 8,000 guests on Killian Court. For the occasion, they will unfurl the four-by-six-foot Car Talk flag, emblazoned with the slogan Non Impediti Ratione Cogitatonis (Unencumbered by the Thought Process) surrounding a seal that memorializes the rear end of Tom's recently deceased 1963 Dodge Dart with a raccoon tail on the trunk. The colors are purple, red, black and white.
The Magliozzis, also known as the Tappet brothers, hosts of the National Public Radio series Car Talk, were invited to deliver the Commencement address this year as a change of pace, following President William J. Clinton last year and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan the previous year.
In responding to the brothers' complaint that they had not been invited to address the graduates in 1997, President Charles M. Vest jokingly noted that the UN had "a really spiffy flag." He added: "You can imagine how useful such a flag can be when you want to cheer up a drab corner of the campus."
As MIT graduates, the brothers knew a problem set when they saw one. They designed their own a flag, aided by web site designer Public Interactive.
President Clinton arrived via helicopter a year ago surrounded by Secret Service agents and political advance men, but Click and Clack expect to travel alone in Tom's 1952 MG TD. They plan to wear full academic regalia, including black faille robes with velvet trim and an eight-sided black tam with gold tassel provided by MIT. Other accessories had not been chosen at press time.
The brothers have been circumspect about the nature of their remarks. When asked about a theme, a source at their office known as Dewey Cheetham and Howe said, "I don't even think they know."
After the Magliozzis' address, President Vest will deliver the charge to the graduates. Other speakers include Brian J. Schneider, president of the Graduate Student Council, and Pooja Shukla, president of the Class of 1999. President Vest and Provost Robert A. Brown will present the degrees.
Commencement exercises will be held in Killian Court regardless of the weather. Depending on the weather, the ceremonies may conclude after the speeches and diplomas will be mailed. The speeches will be held in Rockwell Cage for the stage assembly and degree recipients only in the event of extreme weather conditions. In that case, the President's reception will take place in the Johnson Athletics Center. Robing and assembly locations for graduates will not change.
Information regarding any possible cancellation of the Commencement exercises will be available beginnig at 7am on Friday by calling x3-SNOW.
The invocation will be given by Rabbi Joshua M. Plaut, MIT's Jewish chaplain. The Boston Brass Ensemble, under the direction of John Corley, will play on Killian Court. In honor of the members of the 50th reunion class, Ellen T. Harris, the Class of 1949 Professor of Music, will sing the National Anthem.
The formal activities will begin at 9:45am with the traditional academic procession from 77 Massachusetts Avenue to Killian Court, led by the chief marshal, John Morefield, the 1998-99 president of the MIT Association of Alumni and Alumnae. Access to Killian Court will be by ticket or staff badge.
Families and guests may park in the Pacific Lot and ride shuttle vans to Killian Court beginning at 7:30am. Return service will run from Killian Court and Ames Street (between the tennis courts and East Campus) until 4pm.
Commencement may be viewed on MIT Cable TV in the following campus locations: Kresge Auditorium, Kresge Little Theater, the Wong Auditorium (E51), Rooms 10-250, 34-101, 26-100, 2-131, 2-132, 2-135, 2-136, 2-139, 2-143, 2-146, 2-147, 2-151, E25-111, E51-145, E51-149, 4-145, 4-149, 4-153, 4-159, 4-163, 4-231, 4-237, and 4-370. Tickets are not required in these rooms.
Following Commencement, President Vest and his wife Rebecca will hold a reception for graduates and their guests at several locationsin or near McDermott Court. The Intermission Trio Plus, led by Professor Emeritus Samuel J. Keyser, will perform at the reception.
The commissioning ceremony for graduating cadets and midshipmen in the Army, Air Force and Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) units will be held Friday at 6pm under the masts of the USS Constitution at the Charlestown Navy Yard Historical Park. The speaker will be Rear Admiral John B. Padgett III, commander of Submarine Group Two in Groton, CT.
Parking: The West Parking Garage annex lot on Vassar Street will be open on Thursday, June 3 for guests attending the hooding ceremony. On Commencement day (June 4), Parking for families and guests will be in the Pacific Lot this year. Shuttle vans will provide transportation from there to Killian Court beginning at 7:30am. Return service will run from Killian Court and Ames Street (between tennis courts and East Campus) until 4pm.
Publications: Campus publications, apart from the Commencement program, will not be available in Killian Court. Publications will be available at their usual distribution points in the corridors.
Remote viewing: The Commencement exercises will be broadcast on MIT Cable TV as well as on the web -- the link will be on the MIT home page. For TV viewing, there will be screens in Kresge Auditorium, Kresge Little Theater, and Rms 10-250, 34-101, 26-100, 2-131, 2-132, 2-135, 2-136, 2-139, 2-143, 2-146, 2-147, 2-151, E25-111, E51-145, E51-149, Wong Auditorium (Building E51), 4-145, 4-149, 4-153, 4-159, 4-163, 4-231, 4-237 and 4-370. Tickets are not required in these rooms. Access to Killian Court will be by ticket or staff badge.
Flowers: Flowers used to decorate the Commencement stage will be sold to the community as in years past. The sale will begin Friday at 3:30pm in Killian Court. New Guinea impatiens, scaveola, Marguerite daisies, geraniums and scabiosa will be available at bargain prices. The flowers are donated by the Commencement Committee and proceeds of the sale benefit the MIT Community Service Fund. Volunteers to help with the sale are needed. To sign up, call x3-1989.
A version of this article appeared in the June 2, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 43, Number 32).