Princeton University holds 254th Commencement

Princeton University awarded degrees to 1,084 undergraduates and 648 graduate students at its 254th Commencement today. Honorary degrees were awarded to seven distinguished leaders in the sciences, arts, humanities and public affairs.

In a special and surprise honor, the Board of Trustees also conferred an honorary degree on President Harold T. Shapiro in recognition of his contributions to the University and higher education, his achievements in scholarship and his devotion to public service.

It was Shapiro's last Commencement address as president, as he is stepping down June 15 and will be succeeded by Princeton Professor Shirley Tilghman, a leader in the field of molecular biology.

Speaking to the graduates at the ceremony, which was held on the front lawn of historic Nassau Hall, Shapiro said Princeton faces much the same challenge as its graduating seniors. Both "must find ways to build on the efforts of those who came before us," but also "strive to develop our unique individuality, summoning courage to put aside outdated notions and work on behalf of new ideas and innovative programs."

A particular challenge, he said, is to prepare, as a society and as an academic institution, for the moral challenges posed by rapid advances in science and engineering. "In the 21st century, scientists and engineers will continue to inform us regarding what we can do with

our ever-expanding knowledge base, but it is our shared responsibility to decide what we should do."

During the Commencement ceremony, Princeton also honored faculty members and graduate students for excellence in teaching, as well as four outstanding New Jersey secondary school teachers .

Five hundred ninety men and 494 women in the Class of 2001 received degrees today. Of those, 921 received bachelor of arts degrees and 163 received bachelor of science degrees. In addition, seven bachelor of arts degrees were awarded today to candidates from earlier Princeton classes. Eight undergraduate degrees had been awarded earlier in the 2000-2001 academic year.

About 46 percent of the Class of 2001, or 496 graduating seniors, received some form of honors: 97 received highest honors, 156 received high honors and 243 received honors. (For information on awards bestowed at Class Day, click here .)

Princeton also awarded 648 advanced degrees for the 2000-2001 academic year. They included

267 doctor of philosophy degrees, 229 master of arts degrees, 55 master in public affairs

degrees, 23 master in public policy degrees, 21 master of architecture degrees, 21 master of

science in engineering degrees, 19 master of engineering degrees, six master in public

affairs and urban and regional planning degrees, four master of fine arts degrees, and three

master of Near Eastern studies degrees.

For the first time, valedictory orations were given by not one, but two graduates: Jared Kramer , from Atkinson,

N.H., and Christine

McLeavey , from Kingston, R.I.

Following a long tradition, salutatorian Christopher Bradley addressed his classmates and their guests in Latin a vestige from the days when the entire Commencement ceremony was conducted in Latin. In this case, he delivered the address after donning a garland of leaves on his head, removing his academic gown and revealing a Roman toga. The salutatory oration is Princeton's oldest student honor but it has evolved from a serious, formal address to one full of humor.

Because few students today know Latin, the new graduates follow along using printed copies

of the remarks, complete with footnotes telling them when to applaud ( plaudite ),

laugh ( ridete ), shout ( vociferate ) or weep ( deplorate ). Guests and

other audience members, who do not have the annotated copies, are left to their own devices.

To view a Webcast of the ceremony, click here .

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601