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Venerable Thubten Chodron Will Deliver Baccalaureate Keynote

By Heidi Pitts ’01

Venerable Thubten Chodron sit in a chair and speaks animatedly to someone off camera.
Photograph by Ivar Olai Mjell

Whitman College is pleased to announce the selection of the Venerable Thubten Chodron, an innovative American Buddhist teacher and founder of Sravasti Abbey, north of Spokane, Washington, as speaker for the 2024 Baccalaureate Ceremony on Saturday, May 18.

“Venerable Chodron is a prolific writer and speaker, and her work conveys warmth and wisdom,” says Adam Kirtley, Whitman’s Interfaith Chaplain. “It seemed to be a wonderful fit for this year's Baccalaureate service, and I couldn't be more pleased that she and some of her monastic companions have agreed to come to Walla Walla.”

Venerable Chodron, born in the United States, embarked on a journey of spiritual exploration after her early career teaching in the Los Angeles public school system. Taught by several influential figures including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the highest spiritual leader and head of Tibetan Buddhism, she received ordination as a monastic in 1986 and became a respected teacher. She founded Sravasti Abbey, in Newport, Washington, which is the sole Tibetan Buddhist training monastery for Western practitioners in the United States. 

A Multi-Faith Experience

“Over winter break Whitman international student Lhamo Sherpa Bhote ’24 spent time at the Sravasti Abbey and had a very powerful experience there,” says Kirtley. “I think Venerable Chodron’s practice and teaching will resonate similarly with many in our community.” 

Renowned for her accessible and engaging teaching style, Venerable Chodron has authored numerous books and travels extensively to share the wisdom of the Buddha with diverse audiences worldwide, emphasizing its relevance in contemporary life and promoting compassion and understanding across cultures. Her extensive participation in spiritual conferences and interfaith dialogues underscore her commitment to bridging cultures. Venerable Chodron is also active in outreach to people incarcerated in prisons. With her companions, she will combine her visit to Whitman with spending time at the Washington State Penitentiary and speaking with the Walla Walla Dharma Sangh.

“Whitman College’s multi-faith Baccalaureate Ceremony is one of several events that take place as part of our Commencement celebrations,” says Whitman College President Sarah Bolton. “This ceremony is a meaningful opportunity to pause and reflect with gratitude for the accomplishments of our students and honor the important transition from student to graduate.”

Whitman’s Baccalaureate Ceremony incorporates prayers and readings from people representing a wide range of spiritual identities, as well as musical performances and the keynote address. 

The Baccalaureate Ceremony will take place Saturday, May 18, 2024, at 2:30 p.m. in Cordiner Hall.

The following day, Sunday, May 19, Whitman College will hold its 138th Commencement. Find out more about the Class of 2024’s Commencement.

Published on Apr 23, 2024
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