Commencement for The Evergreen State College’s class of 2023 will take place from 1-3 p.m. Friday, June 16. At the time of this release, more than 650 graduates had registered to take part in the ceremony that will be held rain or shine in the middle of Red Square at the college’s Olympia campus. 

This year’s commencement keynote speaker is Evergreen alum, Josh Blue, ’01. Blue’s quick wit and infectious laughter have helped him win competitions such as Last Comic Standing and captivated audiences in clubs and theaters across the nation, but it is his personal journey that truly sets him apart. Born with Cerebral Palsy, Josh is a catalyst for change, using his comedic talent to challenge stereotypes. His ability to find humor in the most unexpected places has made him a comedic sensation and a powerful advocate for disability rights. 

Other commencement speakers include Faculty Speaker, Dawn Pichón Barron (Chowanoke/Choctaw/Mexican-Chihuahua/Euro roots) who is the academic director/faculty of the undergraduate Native Pathways Program; Undergraduate Student Speaker, Onya Robertson and Graduate Student Speaker, Sarah Brady. 

“The Evergreen Class of 2023 have already proven to the world that they are resilient,” said Evergreen President, Dr. John Carmichael. “They have conquered the challenges of a worldwide pandemic while earning their degrees. Now they will go do what Greener grads do – go out into the world equipped with knowledge, resilience and the courage to make the world a better place.”

“I’m so thrilled to watch what is now my second commencement as Executive Vice President,” said Dr. Dexter Gordon. “These graduates all have potential that knows no limits. I challenge them to embrace the unknown, unleash their creativity and let their passion guide them toward a future where their dreams become reality. “

In addition to the main ceremony on Friday, June 16, Evergreen is hosting many distinguished graduation celebrations throughout the week to honor its graduates including graduate program hooding ceremonies, celebrations for graduating students who are veterans, in the Paths of Study Program, Evening and Weekend Studies and Lavender and Multicultural Advising graduations. 

Both Evergreen’s Tacoma campus and Native Pathways Programs will have ceremonies for graduates from those programs on Saturday, June 17. For times and locations of all graduation celebrations, visit the graduation webpage.

Because of the higher-than-normal number of visitors to The Evergreen State College for graduation festivities this week, parking will be free from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, June 13, 14 and 15 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 16.  

Carpooling and use of Intercity Transit is encouraged. Graduates and their guests are encouraged to park in lots B and C. A shuttle will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to take guests from the F Lot to Red Square and again from 3 to 5 p.m. to take people back to their vehicles. 

Motorists traveling on Evergreen Parkway near the college can expect closures to inbound traffic from 2-4 p.m. to allow for guests departing the commencement ceremony. Expect delays and avoid the area if possible. 

From 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, June 17, Evergreen will host South Puget Sound Community College’s commencement exercises and a brief closure of Evergreen Parkway will again occur shortly after noon to allow for people to leave the campus grounds. 

For more information about The Evergreen State College, please visit its webpage at 


Joel Pearson, Greener alum and top-notch cross country coach joins Evergreen’s athletic department beginning April 1, 2023. 
Pearson comes to the college from the University of Arkansas, Little Rock where he was the distance coach for the Trojans’ Outdoor Track and Field team. Before coaching at the University of Arkansas, he coached at Pratt Community College in Kansas, where he led their cross country and track teams. He came to Pratt after being the head coach for Mountlake Terrace High School’s Cross Country and Track and Field teams. He also led programs at Meridian Community College, Kennesaw State, North Carolina S&T State University and was the Director of Track and Field Operations at the University of Iowa. 
The list of successes under his coaching is impressive and he’s helped develop several all-Americans and National Champions.  
“We are thrilled to have Joel join Evergreen,” said  Zeb Hoffman, Assistant Intercollegiate Athletic Director for The Evergreen State College. “He has helped mold several all-Americans, National Champions and school record-holders in his past coaching position and his vision will help develop a world-class cross country and track and field program here at the college.”
Pearson is a native of Ferndale, Washington and received his undergraduate degree from The Evergreen State College and his graduate degree in sports science from Cardinal Stritch University. Running and distance is in his blood as he is the son of former American 50-mile record holder and national champion, Jim Pearson. 
In December 2022, Evergreen announced it would be adding a cross country team as well as men’s and women’s wrestling to its athletics program to complement the college’s men’s and women’s soccer, basketball, track and field and women’s volleyball. 
Entrepreneurs, Kim Kaufman and Jimmy Goldsmith, have made a $150,000 commitment to provide Evergreen with $50,000 per year for the next three years to support the new wrestling and cross country teams.  Kaufman is an Evergreen graduate and her husband, Goldsmith, has a deep experience in the sports industry. 
It is estimated that the expansion of Evergreen’s athletics programming, combined with other investments in existing sports teams, should yield more than 100 additional students over the next three years. 
For more information about Evergreen athletics, please visit