Princeton University awarded degrees to 1,268 undergraduates in the Class of 2015, three from former classes and 885 graduate students at its 268th Commencement Tuesday, June 2.
The University also awarded honorary degrees to six individuals for their contributions to civil rights, engineering, the law, literature and service to the nation: Harry Belafonte, social activist and artist; David Billington, the Gordon Y.S. Wu Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, at Princeton; Ann Dunwoody, retired four-star general of the U.S. Army; Deborah Poritz, lawyer and former chief justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey; John Paul Stevens, retired associate justice of the Supreme Court; and Mario Vargas Llosa, Peruvian novelist and Nobel laureate in literature.
President Christopher L. Eisgruber, the 20th 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 Misha Semenov from San Francisco, California, an architecture major with certificates in urban studies and translation and intercultural communication. Semenov received the Class of 1939 Princeton Scholar Award, which is given each year to the undergraduate who, at the end of junior year, has achieved the highest academic standing for all preceding college work at the University. He is a recipient of the George B. Wood Legacy Sophomore Prize and twice received the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Semenov is interested in applying the principles of good architecture and urban and environmental planning on a large scale. For his senior thesis in architecture, he examined housing projects designed to accommodate residents' expansions and modifications, analyzing how a more flexible, adaptable rule-based architecture can help fulfill larger social goals.
Neil Hannan, a classics major from Manhasset, New York, delivered the salutatory address. The address, which is the University's oldest student honor and is traditionally given in Latin, began as a serious, formal address during an era when the entire Commencement ceremony was conducted in Latin. It has evolved to become a farewell to Princeton campus life that often includes humorous tributes and recollections.
The new graduates follow along using printed copies of the remarks. These include footnotes telling when to applaud (plaudite), 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.
Hannan shared the George B. Wood Legacy Junior Prize with Allison Kruk, an award given to a member of the senior class in recognition of exceptional academic achievement during junior year. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and has twice received the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence. During the summer of 2013, he participated in the Princeton-sponsored Apulum Archaeological Excavation in Alba Iulia, Romania. Hannan's long-term goals are to study the drivers of economic behavior for use in economic policy and academic work.
Class of 2015 recognized at Commencement, by the numbers
645 men, 623 women
972 bachelor of arts
296 bachelor of science in engineering
1,268 total Class of 2015 undergraduate degrees
(In addition, 12 degrees were awarded during the 2014-15 academic year to graduates of former classes who completed degree requirements earlier in the year.)
Class of 2015 honors recognized at Commencement
566 received honors (44.64 percent of the class)
45.58 percent of graduating men and 43.66 percent of graduating women
148 highest honors
178 high honors
Total graduate degrees: 885
Graduate degrees for 2014-15 academic year
371 doctor of philosophy
365 master of arts
65 master in public affairs
17 master of science in engineering
15 master of architecture
15 master in public policy
23 master in finance
6 master of engineering
3 master of arts in Near Eastern studies
5 master of fine arts