- The Washington Times - Friday, May 7, 2004

Charles Butler is Howard University’s accidental graduate.

The 84-year-old retired postal worker will participate today in Howard’s commencement in recognition of a bachelor’s degree he earned 62 years ago.

Mr. Butler received his diploma yesterday during ceremonies at the school’s Burr Gymnasium. Today, the full graduation ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. on the upper quadrangle of the campus, off Georgia Avenue NW.

In addition to Howard, American University in the District, James Madison University and Marymount College in Virginia also will hold commencement ceremonies this weekend.

Nine other area schools will hold ceremonies through May 28 and have invited such guest speakers as TV news reporter Judy Woodruff, U.S. Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, and other luminaries from government, the media and the entertainment industry.

Mr. Butler was drafted into the Army in 1942 and had to leave Howard during his last semester, but the school still gave him the college credits and sent home a letter stating he was eligible to graduate.

The letter remained unopened until 1983, when Mr. Butler’s mother died and one of his sisters discovered it. However, his daughter, Linda Woodward, didn’t find out about the letter until last year.

“As soon as I found out, I called Howard University to see if what I heard was true,” she said.

Mrs. Woodward said she wanted to give her father the diploma as a present for his 84th birthday and because he put his four children through school and attended all of their graduation ceremonies.

“I had no idea I was a college graduate until I was 84 years old,” Mr. Butler said yesterday. “I am really looking forward to this.”

The main ceremony at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., is today at 9 a.m. in Bridgeforth Stadium. Visitors can also watch the ceremonies on four large screens on the campus. For information, visit jmu.edu.

The graduation ceremonies at American University will start at 9 a.m. tomorrow on the main campus at 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW.

Mrs. Woodruff, a CNN senior correspondent will speak to graduates of the Kogod School of Business and School of Communication. Students from AU’s Washington College of Law will graduate May 23. For information, visit www.american.edu.

Marymount College in Arlington will hold its commencement ceremonies beginning at 10 a.m. tomorrow at DAR Constitution Hall in the District. For information, visit marymount.edu.

The Catholic University of America will host its main commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. May 15 on the steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at 400 Michigan Ave. NE. NBC News anchorman Brian Williams, a former Catholic University student, will deliver the commencement address. For information, visit www.cua.edu.

The 37th annual George Mason University graduation ceremony is scheduled for at 10 a.m. May 15 in the Patriot Center. For information, visit www.jmu.edu.

The University of Virginia will hold its graduation ceremony on campus at 10 a.m.May 16 Mr. Warner, a 27-year veteran of the U.S. Senate, will deliver the commencement address. For information, visit www.virginia.edu.

George Washington University will start its commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. May 16 on the Ellipse. The ceremonies will be moved to the MCI Center at noon in the event of rain. Ceremonies for the school’s law students will be May 23.

Leon M. Lederman, the winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in physics, will receive an honorary degree and address the graduating class. For information, visit www.gwu.edu.

Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va., will hold its ceremonies at 10 a.m. May 16 on campus in front of the Martha S. Grafton Library. Guests must register in advance for a limited number of special-needs seating. The ceremonies will be at Expoland in Fishersville in the event of rain. For information, visit www.mbc.com.

Graduation ceremonies at St. John’s College in Annapolis begin at 10:30 a.m. May 16 on the school’s front lawn. For information, visit www.sjca.edu.

The University of Maryland will hold its main graduation ceremony at 7 p.m. May 20 at Comcast Center on campus. The commencement speaker has yet to be announced. For more information, visit www.umd.edu.

Commencement ceremonies at Georgetown University beginat 3:30 p.m. May 21 for graduate students, followed by undergraduate ceremonies at 9 a.m. May 22 and medical and law school graduates at 9:15 a.m. May 23. Most of the exercises will take place on campus, on Healy Lawn, or in McDonough Arena in the event of rain. The guest speakers will be announced next week, a school official said. For information, visit www.georgetown.edu.

The U.S. Naval Academy will hold its commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. May 28 at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis. Officials would not release the time or additional information.

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