WATERVILLE — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins will deliver the commencement speech to the nearly 480 graduating Colby College seniors this Sunday during the college’s 197th commencement.

The commencement will be on the lawn at the Miller Library and will begin at 10 a.m. on May 27.

Collins, Maine’s senior senator, is 15th in Senate seniority, is the most senior Republican woman, and is widely considered one of the most powerful members of the Senate. For the past four consecutive years, she has ranked as the most bipartisan senator. Senator Collins chairs the Senate Aging Committee and the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, and she serves on the Intelligence Committee as well as the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Artist Theaster Gates will deliver the baccalaureate address on Saturday. Gates was named the first distinguished visiting artist and director of artist initiatives at the Lunder Institute for American Art. He is an internationally acclaimed artist whose works are shown at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Whitney Biennial, and the National Gallery of Art. He is founder of the Rebuild Foundation, a nonprofit focused on redevelopment and affordable space initiatives in under-resourced communities. Gates will be granted an honorary degree.

New York Times journalist Rebecca Corbett, who graduated from Colby in 1974 and worked as an editor at The Morning Sentinel, will receive an honorary degree. Corbett led a team of reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment story that galvanized the #MeToo movement, which supports survivors of sexual assault. Corbett is a former member of the selection committee for Colby’s Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award for courageous journalism.

Gregory Powell, the chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation and a Waterville native, will also be honored. Under Powell the foundation has funded programs to support the creation of education savings accounts for all children born in Maine, loan forgiveness for graduates of STEM fields working in the state, and access to high-quality health care for Maine’s people.

This year’s graduating class is made up of students from 38 states and represents 45 different countries. Sociology and African-American studies major Marnay Avant, of St. Louis, was elected to be the student speaker. Adrienne Carmack, of Veazie, Maine, who majored in education studies, will receive the Condon medal, which recognizes a student’s citizenship and is the only student award recognized at commencement.

In the event of rain, the ceremony will be moved inside to the gymnasium in the Harold Alfond Athletic Center with an overflow simulcast available in the field house.

During the weekend, a portion of Mayflower Hill Drive will be closed. On Saturday, the road will be closed to traffic from 9 to 9:15 p.m. for a fireworks display. On Sunday, it will be closed from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. to accommodate pedestrians. The road will have a north and south closure that day. Drivers approaching Colby from the south will have to turn around. Drivers may turn onto Mt. Merici Avenue.

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