Princeton holds 255th Commencement

June 4, 2002 2:29 p.m.

Princeton celebrated its 255th Commencement Tuesday, awarding degrees to 1,091 undergraduates and 611 graduate students.

Honorary degrees were awarded to eight individuals who have made significant contributions in the sciences, arts and humanities: scientist and physician Anthony S. Fauci, acclaimed minister James A. Forbes Jr., radio host Terry Gross, professor and historian Bernard Lewis, Oxford University Vice-Chancellor Colin Lucas, playwright and director Emily Mann, baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. and actress and television host Oprah Winfrey.

In her first Commencement as Princeton's president, Shirley M. Tilghman addressed the graduates at the ceremony, which was held on the front lawn of historic Nassau Hall.

Recalling the dedication to public service of Princeton alumni, from founders of the nation to leaders of the Human Genome Project, Tilghman urged the graduates to remember that their education and experiences at Princeton carry with them a responsibility to work for the common good.

"As you walk through FitzRandolph Gateway today, I hope that you will take with you not only the lessons learned in classrooms and the life-long friendships that you formed, but also the strong values of leadership, intellectual rigor and, most especially, civic duty that you have embraced in your time on this campus," Tilghman said.

Five hundred sixty-five men and 523 women in the class of 2002 received degrees Tuesday. Of those, 886 received bachelor of arts degrees and 202 received bachelor of science in engineering degrees. Three students from earlier classes also received degrees.

About 46 percent of the class members, or 503 students, received honors. Of these, 98 students graduated with highest honors, 175 with high honors, and 230 with honors.

The 611 advanced degrees awarded today included both masters degrees and doctorates. These were: 232 doctor of philosophy degrees, 227 master of arts degrees, 52 master in public affairs degrees, 21 master of science in engineering degrees, 20 master of architecture degrees, 20 master of engineering degrees, 16 master in public policy degrees, 11 master in public affairs and urban and regional planning degrees, four master of fine arts degrees, four master in finance degrees, three master of Near Eastern studies degrees and one master of science degree.

Lillian Pierce , a mathematics major and accomplished musician who will study at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar next fall, gave the valedictory address . Pierce observed that being willing to play with knowledge and ideas is an important part of making intellectual advances and achieving goals.

"All of us are beginning the longest sustained effort of all: our adult lives," she said. "I believe that engaging in this kind of exploratory thought laced with humor will be perpetually helpful."

The salutatorian was Josephine Dru , who addressed her classmates and their guests in Latin - a vestige from the days when the entire Commencement ceremony was conducted in that language. The salutatory oration, Princeton's oldest student honor, began as a serious, formal address, but today it is often humorous.

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) and shout (vociferate).

As it does each year, Princeton honored excellence in teaching at the Commencement ceremony. Four Princeton faculty members received President's Awards for Distinguished Teaching : Leora Batnitzky, assistant professor of religion; Peter Bunnell, the David Hunter McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art and professor of art and archaeology; William Jordan, professor of history and director of the Program in Medieval Studies; and Kyle Vanderlick, professor of chemical engineering.

Four outstanding secondary school teachers from across New Jersey also were recognized for their work.

Other honors for the new graduates were presented over the last few days. Seniors were recognized at Class Day ceremonies Monday, and the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni honored four graduate students for excellence in leading precepts.

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601