Princeton University holds 263rd Commencement

1,979 undergraduate and graduate students awarded degrees

Princeton University awarded degrees to 1,166 undergraduates in the class of 2010, nine from other classes and 804 graduate students at its 263rd Commencement Tuesday, June 1.

In addition, the University conferred honorary doctoral degrees upon five individuals for their contributions to the humanities, law, medical and scientific research and human rights: Drew Gilpin Faust, a historian and the president of Harvard University; Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a U.S. Supreme Court justice and trailblazer for women's rights; Olufunmilayo Olopade, a medical researcher who focuses on cancer risk assessment; Albie Sachs, a champion of human rights in South Africa; and Edward Taylor, Princeton's A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Organic Chemistry Emeritus.

President Shirley M. Tilghman, the 19th president of Princeton, presided over the exercises and addressed graduates. Approximately 7,500 guests attended the morning ceremony on the front lawn of historic Nassau Hall.

The valedictory oration was delivered by David Karp, who majored in mechanical and aerospace engineering. Karp accumulated a 4.0 grade point average and 29 A's and A+'s. In addition to his major, he earned certificates in applied and computational mathematics and in applications of computing. He is one of 14 students nationwide to be awarded a Churchill Scholarship for 2010-11, which he will use at the University of Cambridge to pursue a master of advanced studies in applied mathematics. And he is one of 15 students from across the country to receive a $250,000 fellowship from the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation, which will support five years of doctoral study in computational fluid dynamics at Stanford University.

Salutatorian Marguerite Colson, the highest-ranking history major in the class of 2010, delivered the salutatory address. At Princeton, the speech traditionally is given in Latin, one of Colson's key areas of study, 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 when to applaud (plaudite) and laugh (ridete). 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 studying history and Latin, Colson earned a certificate in the language and culture of ancient Rome. Starting this summer, she will be a yearlong fellow with the Project 55 alumni service group, working as an intern for the next year at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office in the Investigation Division Central unit, which prosecutes white-collar crimes. She hopes the fellowship will help her decide whether to go to law school.

Here is more information about Princeton's degree recipients:

Class of 2010 recognized at Commencement, by the numbers

621 men, 545 women
960 bachelor of arts
206 bachelor of science in engineering
1,166 total class of 2010 undergraduate degrees awarded at Commencement
9 degrees were awarded to graduates from former classes at Commencement

Class of 2010 honors
497 received honors (42.6 percent of the class)
116 highest
162 high
219 honors

Graduate degrees for the 2009-10 year
302 doctor of philosophy
330 master of arts
69 master in public affairs
30 master in finance
26 master of architecture
21 master in public policy
10 master of engineering
8 master of science in engineering
5 master of arts in Near Eastern studies
3 master of fine arts