Princeton University holds 269th Commencement

May 31, 2016 12:15 p.m.
Commencement 2016 INTERIM procession

Sandra Bermann (above), chief marshal for University Convocations and the Cotsen Professor in the Humanities, leads the procession at Princeton University's 269th Commencement Tuesday, May 31. The University awarded degrees to 1,291 undergraduates in the Class of 2016, five from former classes and 906 graduate students.

Sandra Bermann (above), chief marshal for University Convocations and the Cotsen Professor in the Humanities, leads the procession at Princeton University's 269th Commencement Tuesday, May 31. The University awarded degrees to 1,291 undergraduates in the Class of 2016, five from former classes and 906 graduate students.

Photos by Noel Valero for the Office of Communications

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Princeton University awarded degrees to 1,291 undergraduates in the Class of 2016, five from former classes and 906 graduate students at its 269th Commencement Tuesday, May 31.

The University also awarded honorary degrees to six individuals for their contributions to the humanities, economics, journalism, medicine, law, history and public service: Ben Bernanke, former chairman of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve; Eric Foner, writer and historian; Shuli Hu, editor-in-chief of Caixin Media; Robert Rivers Jr., retired vascular surgeon and former Princeton University trustee; Bryan Stevenson, lawyer and activist; and Froma Zeitlin, the Ewing Professor of Greek Language and Literature, Emeritus, at Princeton.

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.

Cameron Platt, an English major from Santa Barbara, California, delivered the valedictory oration. Platt earned the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence in her sophomore year and was the co-winner of the George B. Wood Legacy Junior Prize for exceptional achievement during the junior year. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in fall 2015.

She received an English departmental prize annually since the spring of her first year, including the Class of 1870 Junior Prize and the Class of 1870 Old English Prize. She has twice been recognized for Outstanding Work in the Program in Theater and also has earned a certificate in theater.

Platt will spend the summer working on a theater production to be presented at the New York Fringe Festival. She then will attend the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.

Esther Kim, an English major from Marietta, Georgia, 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.

Kim received the Shapiro Prize and was selected to Phi Beta Kappa last fall. She received the Ward Mathis Prize for short fiction, and the English department's Emily Ebert Junior Prize for her junior independent work. She also studied abroad at University College London. After she graduates, Kim will spend next year teaching English in rural Korea as a Fulbright Fellow before pursuing an MFA in creative writing at Florida State University.

Commencement 2016 INTERIM students

With smiles and hugs, students prepare to celebrate their graduation from the University.

Class of 2016 recognized at Commencement, by the numbers

• 647 men, 644 women
• 974 bachelor of arts
• 317 bachelor of science in engineering
• 1,291 total Class of 2016 undergraduate degrees 
• 5 degrees to members of previous classes who completed degree requirements during the 2015-16 academic year. (In previous months, 14 degrees were awarded to graduates of former classes who completed degree requirements earlier in the year.)

Class of 2016 honors recognized at Commencement

• 602 received honors (46.63 percent of the class)
• 46.68 percent of graduating men and 46.58 percent of graduating women
• 140 highest honors
• 211 high honors
• 251 honors

Total graduate degrees: 906

Graduate degrees for 2015-16 academic year

• 373 Doctor of Philosophy
• 363 Master of Arts
• 60 Master in Public Affairs
• 31 Master of Architecture
• 28 Master in Finance
• 26 Master of Science in Engineering
• 18 Master in Public Policy
• 4 Master of Fine Arts
• 2 Master of Engineering; and
• 1 Master of Arts in Near Eastern Studies