Princeton University holds 259th Commencement

1,769 undergraduate and graduate students awarded degrees

Princeton University awarded degrees to 1,108 undergraduates and 661 graduate students at its 259th Commencement Tuesday, June 6.

In addition, the University conferred honorary doctoral degrees upon six individuals for their contributions to science, health care, athletics, literature, education and civil rights: John Bonner, Princeton's George Moffett Professor of Biology Emeritus; Paul Farmer, medical anthropologist, physician and founding director of the international organization Partners in Health; Mia Hamm, U.S. women's soccer legend; Seamus Heaney, Nobel laureate poet, translator and essayist; Freeman Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County; and Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America.

President Shirley M. Tilghman, the 19th president of Princeton, presided over the exercises and addressed graduates. Approximately 7,000 guests attended the morning ceremony on the front lawn of historic Nassau Hall.

The valedictory oration was delivered by Chris Douthitt, a music major from Spokane, Wash. Douthitt, who earned numerous awards for academic excellence while at Princeton, graduated just one A- shy of a perfect grade point average. He will spend the next year in Chicago, where he will work on his music and complete a summer internship at the American Indian Center through the Class of 1969 Community Service Fund.

Salutatorian Dan-el Padilla Peralta, a classics major, delivered the salutatory address, which at Princeton is traditionally given in Latin and is the University's oldest student honor. The tradition dates back to an era when the entire Commencement ceremony was conducted in Latin. Although the Latin salutatory began as a serious, formal address, today it often includes 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, a practice dictated by tradition because the salute is directed to the members of the class.

Padilla, who is from New York, took a graduate-level course in Latin grammar as a sophomore -- the first of several graduate courses he took in the Department of Classics. As a recipient of the Daniel M. Sachs Class of 1960 Graduating Scholarship -- one of the highest honors given to Princeton undergraduates -- Padilla will enroll in Oxford University after graduation to read for a second bachelor's degree in classics.

Class of 2006 by the numbers:
585 men, 522 women
940 bachelor of arts
167 bachelor of science in engineering
1,107 total class of 2006 undergraduate degrees awarded
1 degree awarded to a graduate from an earlier class

Class of 2006 honors:
487 received honors (44 percent of the class)
98 highest
158 high
231 honors

Graduate degrees:
288 doctor of philosophy
220 master of arts
58 master in public affairs
22 master of architecture
17 master in public policy
16 master of science in engineering
15 master in finance
13 master in public affairs and urban and regional planning
7 master of engineering
4 master of fine arts
1 master of arts in Near Eastern studies