Princeton University holds 260th Commencement

1,843 undergraduate and graduate students awarded degrees

Princeton University awarded degrees to 1,127 undergraduates and 716 graduate students at its 260th Commencement Tuesday, June 5.

In addition, the University conferred honorary doctoral degrees upon seven individuals for their contributions to humanitarian efforts and athletic achievements, aerospace and public service, science, literature, medicine, history and the arts: Muhammad Ali, the legendary boxer and humanitarian; Norman Augustine, the former chief executive officer and chairman of the aerospace giant Lockheed Martin Corp.; Elizabeth Blackburn, a pioneering molecular biologist; Robert Fagles, a celebrated literary translator and Princeton's Arthur Marks '19 Professor of Comparative Literature Emeritus; LaSalle Leffall Jr., a leading cancer surgeon and researcher; Fritz Stern, a renowned historian of modern Germany; and Twyla Tharp, an award-winning choreographer and director.

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 Glen Weyl, an economics major from Los Altos Hills, Calif., who is merely a year away from earning his Ph.D. in the field. He received numerous awards for academic excellence during his undergraduate career at Princeton, while also completing his doctoral coursework and exams. Weyl will return to the University next year to finish his dissertation in advance of plans to pursue a career as an academic economist.

Salutatorian Maya Maskarinec, 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. The Latin salutatory began as a serious, formal address, but today it often includes humorous tributes and recollections, as well as a farewell to Princeton campus life.

Because few students today know Latin, the new graduates follow along using printed copies of the remarks. These include footnotes telling the graduates when to clap (plaudite), laugh (ridete) and shout (conclamate). 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.

To feed her interest in Latin, Maskarinec, who is from Honolulu, began pursuing studies in classic languages with a tutor while in high school. Her school didn't offer Latin or Greek. After arriving at Princeton, Maskarinec studied at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome during a semester abroad, and she will study at the University of Vienna next year as a recipient of a Fulbright grant. She plans eventually to become a graduate student in the field of late antiquity.

Class of 2007 by the numbers:
594 men, 526 women
955 bachelor of arts
165 bachelor of science in engineering
1,120 total class of 2007 undergraduate degrees awarded
7 degrees were awarded to graduates from earlier classes

Class of 2007 honors
499 received honors (44.6 percent of the class)
97 highest
156 high
246 honors

Graduate degrees
332 doctor of philosophy
231 master of arts
60 master in public affairs
21 master in architecture
18 master in public policy
17 master in finance
14 master in public affairs and urban and regional planning
10 master of science in engineering
7 master of engineering
4 master of fine arts
2 master in Near Eastern studies