Princeton University holds 265th Commencement

June 5, 2012 noon

2,067 undergraduate and graduate students awarded degrees

Princeton University awarded degrees to 1,230 undergraduates in the Class of 2012, five from other classes and 832 graduate students at its 265th Commencement Tuesday, June 5.

The University also conferred honorary doctoral degrees upon six people for their contributions to the arts, sports and education: Hall of Fame coach Peter "Pete" Carril, who led the Princeton University men's basketball team for 29 seasons; Aretha Franklin, the singer known as the "Queen of Soul"; Eduardo PadrĂ³n, president of Miami Dade College; Joan Wallach Scott, the Harold F. Linder Professor in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton; Joseph Taylor Jr., a Nobel laureate and the James McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Physics Emeritus at Princeton University; and Karen Uhlenbeck, the Sid W. Richardson Foundation Regents Chair in Mathematics at the University of Texas-Austin.

President Shirley M. Tilghman, the 19th president of Princeton, presided over the exercises and addressed the graduates. About 10,000 students and guests attended the morning ceremony on the front lawn of historic Nassau Hall.

The valedictory oration was delivered by Nathaniel Fleming from Eugene, Ore., who pursued a concentration in psychology and a certificate in French. Fleming was awarded the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence after his freshman and sophomore years. After his junior year, he received the psychology department's Howard Crosby Warren Junior Prize, as well as the Class of 1939 Princeton Scholar Award for achieving the highest academic standing for all preceding college work at the University. In December, he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

Elizabeth Butterworth, a classics major from Auburn, Mass., delivered the salutatory address, which at Princeton is traditionally is given in Latin and is the University's oldest student honor. The Latin salutatory, which began as a serious, formal address during an era when the entire Commencement ceremony was conducted in Latin, is now a farewell to Princeton campus life that often includes humorous tributes and recollections.

The new graduates, most of whom do not know Latin, follow along using printed copies of the remarks. These include footnotes telling when to applaud (plaudite) and laugh (ridete) and cheer (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.

Last fall Butterworth was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, which she will use to pursue a master's degree in comparative and international education at the University of Oxford. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, she twice received the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence and also earned the classics department's Charles A. Steele Prize for high proficiency in Greek and Latin.

Class of 2012 recognized at Commencement, by the numbers
621 men, 609 women
1,015 bachelor of arts
215 bachelor of science in engineering
1,230 total Class of 2012 undergraduate degrees
5 degrees awarded to graduates from former classes

(In addition, 14 degrees were awarded during the 2011-12 academic year to graduates of former classes who completed degree requirements earlier in the year.)

Class of 2012 honors recognized at Commencement
531 received honors (43.17 percent of the class)
42.72 percent of graduating men and 43.28 percent of graduating women
124 highest
179 high
228 honors

Total graduate degrees: 832

Graduate degrees for 2011-12 academic year
351 doctor of philosophy
326 master of arts
63 master in public affairs
13 master of science in engineering
26 master of architecture
23 master in public policy
4 master of engineering
22 master in finance
2 master of arts in Near Eastern studies
2 master of fine arts