Princeton University holds 262nd Commencement

1,881 undergraduate and graduate students awarded degrees

Princeton University awarded degrees to 1,128 undergraduates and 753 graduate students at its 262nd Commencement Tuesday, June 2.

In addition, the University conferred honorary doctoral degrees upon five individuals for their contributions to civic engagement, performing arts, engineering and sustainability: Ernesto Cortés Jr., an influential community organizer; Ruby Dee Davis, a renowned actor and civil rights activist; Irvin Glassman, a leading figure in combustion and energy research and Princeton's Robert H. Goddard Professor Emeritus of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Meryl Streep, an Academy Award-winning actor and advocate for women's rights; and Alice Waters, a celebrated chef and proponent of sustainable cuisine.

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 Holger Staude, an economics major who is an accomplished actor and pianist. Staude graduates with certificates in environmental studies, finance and musical performance. He received an offer to study acting for a year at the prestigious Paris National Conservatory for Dramatic Arts after graduation, but he will pursue his declared passion for economics in a research position with the merchant bank Allen & Co. in New York.

Salutatorian Stephen Hammer, 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. Traditionally, these include footnotes telling 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.

In addition to studies in Latin and Greek, Hammer pursued political theory and themes of right and wrong in his academic work while also participating in ROTC at Princeton. His commitment to duty will lead him to serve in the Army infantry after first serving as a Rhodes Scholar for two years at the University of Oxford to earn a master's degree in theology. Hammer plans to attend law school with the hope of one day becoming a judge.

Class of 2009 by the numbers
597 men, 524 women
952 bachelor of arts
169 bachelor of science in engineering
1,121 total class of 2009 undergraduate degrees awarded
7 degrees were awarded to graduates from former classes

Class of 2009 honors
465 received honors (41.5 percent of the class)
90 highest
170 high
205 honors

Graduate degrees
349 doctor of philosophy
231 master of arts
66 master in public affairs
16 master of science in engineering
28 master in finance
25 master in public policy
24 master of architecture
10 master of engineering
2 master of arts in Near Eastern studies
2 master of fine arts