Vera Wang '71 to deliver 85th Commencement address at Sarah Lawrence College

Fashion icon Vera Wang will deliver the 85th Commencement address to the Sarah Lawrence College Class of 2013 on Friday, May 24, at 10 a.m. on the College's southern Westchester County campus. "Vera Wang, a 1971 graduate of the College, is one of the most influential designers in the fashion world today," says Sarah Lawrence College President Karen Lawrence. "We are delighted that she will deliver the commencement address at Sarah Lawrence, which has always nurtured individual voices and entrepreneurial spirits." President Lawrence will preside at the commencement of approximately 330 graduating seniors and 125 students receiving their master's degrees. Echoing a 2000 alumni citation of achievement awarded to Ms. Wang, President Lawrence says, "Sarah Lawrence teaches students to be fearless and creative, and Vera Wang's position in the world of fashion certainly demonstrates that."

A native New Yorker, Wang became the youngest-ever fashion editor and stylist at Vogue, where she remained for 16 years before moving to Ralph Lauren as a design director. In 1990, she opened her first flagship store on Manhattan's Madison Avenue, introducing fashion to the bridal industry with revolutionary designs and refined detailing. Since then, she has expanded her collections to include ready-to-wear, footwear, eyewear, fragrance, flowers, china and crystal, silver and gifts, bedding, fine papers, and her first book, Vera Wang on Weddings. 2010 marked Vera Wang's 20th anniversary as a brand, a celebration of two decades spent at the forefront of fashion.

Also at the commencement ceremonies, President Lawrence will present an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to Joan Cannady Countryman '62, recognizing her 11 years of service to the College as a member of the Board of Trustees and her notable accomplishments in her professional life.

Countryman was head of Lincoln School, a Quaker K-12 school for girls in Providence, RI, until her retirement in 2005. From August 2006 until March 2007 she was a consultant and interim head of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. A former teacher of mathematics, she has written extensively on issues of race, gender, and the teaching of mathematics. She was a member of the board of managers of Haverford College, among other board positions concerned with education, health, and women's issues. An early advocate for civil rights, she publicly credits Sarah Lawrence for her later involvement in the movement. Countryman received a master's degree from Yale University, and she studied at the London School of Economics as a Fulbright Scholar.