Feature: July 3, 1996
Members of the Class of 1996 not only proclaimed themselves alumni on June 4 at Princeton's 249th commencement, but they also reveled in the presence of the President of the United States, who received an honorary degree and delivered the commencement address. About 10,000 people attended the ceremony (some 1,500 more than in an average year), and an estimated 1,500 people stood on Nassau Street to hear Clinton, the first U.S. President to address a Princeton commencement while in office.
But the honor of having the President at graduation brought with it some hassles. Students and guests had to pass through magnetometers and then wait hours in restricted areas before the commencement procession began. The inconveniences didn't dampen the enthusiasm of students, parents, and faculty members, who cheered when Clinton approached the podium in front of Nassau Hall. He gave a 30-minute address, in which he spoke about the importance of education to the nation's future. In front of many parents who spent more than $100,000 to educate their children, Clinton announced a new proposal to make higher education affordable for more people. His plan would give families earning up to $100,000 a $1,500 tax credit for a student's first year at college and the same tax credit for a second year if she gets a B average the first.
"Education is the . . . great Continental Divide between those who will prosper and those who will not," said Clinton. "Our goal must be . . . to make the 13th and 14th years of education as universal to all Americans as the first 12 are today."
Clinton told the Class of 1996 that it is living through a time of great change. For Princeton graduates, he said, this age is one of probability because of the excellent education they received. But those Americans who are working harder for less money do not face so bright a future, said Clinton, who challenged the graduates to "never to be satisfied with an age of probability for only the sons and daughters of Princeton."
Other presidents who have participated in university anniversaries include Grover Cleveland, who gave an address at Princeton's 150th anniversary celebration, and Harry Truman, who spoke during its 200th. George Washington attended commencement in September 1783, when the Continental Congress was meeting in Nassau Hall, but did not deliver an address. By long tradition, Princeton's commencement addresses are made by the university president, but in this exceptional year President Shapiro yielded the dais to Clinton.
Charles P. Stowell, a classics major, delivered the Latin salutatory address, and his classmates, armed with crib sheets telling them when and how to respond, impressed their parents and friends with the requisite laughs and applause on cue. Stowell ribbed Clinton for his association with Yale, where he earned a law degree. In concluding his salutation, Stowell said, "Now we have written our magnum opus, completed our examinations, and, as Jerry Garcia (requiescat in pace) used to sing: 'There's nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile.'" Psychology major Bryan P. Duff, in his valedictory address, spoke about mentoring, which he benefited from at Princeton. "The real payoff is that the mentor empowers you to acquire facts on your own," he said.
The university conferred 1,103 bachelors degrees to graduating seniors, 589 to men and 514 to women. The undergraduate degrees included 952 bachelors of arts and 151 bachelors of science in engineering. Almost half of the seniors, 46.3 percent, received some form of honors: 91 received highest honors, 165 high honors, and 255 honors. The 666 advanced degrees awarded included 287 doctors of philosophy, 261 masters of arts, 66 masters in public affairs, 23 masters of architecture, two masters of science, 20 masters of science in engineering, and seven masters of fine arts.
President Shapiro presented Distinguished Teaching Awards to David P. Billington '50, a professor of civil engineering and operations research; James W. Rankin, a senior lecturer in Germanic languages and literatures; Shirley M. Tilghman, a professor in the life sciences and of molecular biology; and David T. Wilkinson, a professor of physics.
At the rainy Class Day ceremony on Cannon Green on Monday, June 3, the university presented awards to seniors for outstanding athletic and academic achievements. Classmates of Susan Suh voted her the W. Sanderson Detwiler '03 Prize, which goes to the person who has done the most for the class. A politics major, Suh was copresident of the senior class and a residential adviser in Butler College. David L. Calone, an economics major who headed the Undergraduate Student Government for an unprecedented two years, won the Class of 1901 Medal, which honors the senior who, in the judgment of classmates, has done the most for Princeton.
April A. Chou and Andrew D. Goldstein, both majors in the Woodrow Wilson School, won the Harold W. Dodds *14 Achievement Award, which honors Princeton's 15th president and is given in recognition of qualities that include moral courage and "a judicious regard for the opinion of others." Chou was a member of the Race Relations Working Group and the Task Force on Diversity in the Curriculum. Goldstein was a member of the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline and president of Charter Club and the Inter-Club Council.
The Frederick Douglass Service Award, given for courage, leadership, and other contributions to "experiences of racial minorities" was shared by Ricshawn S. Adkins, a Woodrow Wilson School major, and Javier A. Kypuros, a mechanical-engineering major. Adkins was a four-year Community House volunteer. Kypuros has worked to build community among Latino as well as other minority students. Raymond A. Gonzalez and Crystal A. Laws won the Priscilla Glickman '92 Memorial Prize, which honors "independence and imagination in the area of community service." Gonzalez, a sociology major, has been a Big Brother for four years. Laws, a Woodrow Wilson School major, initiated New Visions, which provides tutoring, counseling, and social services for inner-city Trenton children.
Three athletes shared the C. Otto von Kienbusch '06 Sportswoman of the Year Award: Lisa A. Rebane, who played field hockey and lacrosse; Kristin M. Spataro, who played volleyball; and Stacy E. Thurber, who played softball. Rebane is Princeton's all-time leader in career points and goals in women's lacrosse and holds five school scoring records in field hockey. Spataro, the second Princeton volleyball player ever to be named Ivy League Player of the Year, this year led the Tigers to a league championship. Centerfielder Thurber led the Tigers to three conference championships and three NCAA tournament appearances.
The William Winston Roper '02 Trophy, the highest honor for a male athlete, was shared by tennis player Reed S. Cordish, who was ranked 44th in the nation; Ugwunna K. Ikpeowo, who holds Princeton's indoor and outdoor triple-jump records; Jesse A. Marsch, who captained the soccer team and was a first-team all-America and all-Ivy selection; and David M. Patterson, captain of the football team and one of the finest defensive players in Ivy League history. James E. von der Heydt, a split end on the lightweight football team, won the Class of 1916 Cup for being the varsity letter winner who achieved the highest academic standing.
Senator Bill Bradley '65 in his Baccalaureate address delivered Sunday, June 2, in the Chapel, spoke about life's deeper purposes. He encouraged the graduating seniors to give to others without getting something in return, "to listen to your inner voice," and "to be true to yourself and act on it" whether that's starting a soup kitchen, opening a business, or (in his own case) leaving the U.S. Senate. The challenge for our nation, he said, is to figure out how to progress economically at the same time as we address social problems. To that end, Bradley encouraged the students to believe in and follow their own impulses, which sometimes "take you far from the crowd but which are the truest in each of us."
-Kathryn F. Greenwood