Princeton University holds 258th Commencement

1,815 undergraduate and graduate students awarded degrees

(Editor's Note: The following was updated on June 14, 2005, to reflect an additional bachelor of science in engineering degree awarded at Commencement.)

Princeton University awarded degrees to 1,127 undergraduates and 688 graduate students at its 258th Commencement Tuesday, May 31. In addition, the University conferred honorary doctoral degrees upon six individuals for their contributions to the financial industry, the arts and humanities, and science.

President Shirley M. Tilghman, the 19th president of Princeton, presided over the exercises and addressed graduates. Approximately 8,000 guests attended the morning ceremony on the front lawn of historic Nassau Hall.

The valedictory oration was delivered by Varun Phadke, a molecular biology major from Syracuse, N.Y. Phadke, who graduated in the top of his class and is the recipient of numerous honors for exceptional academic achievement, is headed to Harvard Medical School.

Salutatorian Graham Phillips, a history major, delivered the salutatory address, which at Princeton is traditionally given in Latin. The tradition dates back to an era when the entire ceremony was conducted in Latin. The Latin salutatory, Princeton's oldest student honor, began as a serious, formal address, but today it often contains humorous tributes, recollections and a farewell to Princeton campus life.

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 (applaudite), laugh (ridete) and shout loudly (acclamate magna voce). Guests and other audience members do not have the annotated copies as tradition dictates since the salute is directed to the members of the class.

Phillips, who is from Brookfield, Mass., took four semesters of Latin while at Princeton and went on to advanced courses in Roman letters, Roman drama and Vergil . In July he will report for basic training in the U.S. Army at the Fort Knox Armor Center in Kentucky.

Class of 2005 by the numbers:

573 men, 550 women

946 bachelor of arts

177 bachelor of science in engineering

1,123 total class of 2005 undergraduate degrees awarded

4 degrees awarded to graduates from earlier classes

Class of 2005 honors:

495 received honors (44.1 percent of the class)

98 highest

172 high

225 honors

Graduate degrees:

277 doctor of philosophy

262 master of arts

58 master in public affairs

26 master of science in engineering

18 master in architecture

16 master in public policy

12 master in public affairs and urban and regional planning

9 master of engineering

5 master in finance

3 master in Near Eastern studies

1 master of fine arts

1 master of science