Daniel Zhao

On a sparkling Monday morning, members of the Yale class of 2018 and graduates from 13 professional and graduate schools paraded into a packed Old Campus for the University’s 317th Commencement. Yale conferred a total of 3,728 degrees and 10 honorary degrees, including 1,360 for the graduating seniors.

With music performed by the Yale Concert Band in the background, graduates clad in hoods of various colors marched into Old Campus. Following the 45-minute procession, the ceremony began around 11 a.m. as University President Peter Salovey greeted graduates, families, faculty and administrators.

“We salute your effort, your diligence, your talent, and your intellect,” Salovey said to the graduates. “We also join you in expressing gratitude to all who have supported you in these endeavors.”

After a prayer by University Chaplain Sharon Kugler, the deans of Yale College and each graduate and professional school presented their graduates one after another to Salovey, who conferred the degrees upon them.

The atmosphere was filled with cheer and, unlike last year, when an audience member rushed the stage, the ceremony ran uninterrupted. When Yale School of Nursing Dean Ann Kurth announced her school’s graduates, the recipients screamed in joy while launching confetti and glitter into the air.

Toward the end of the ceremony, University Provost Ben Polak presented the 10 honorary degree recipients of this year to Salovey. The recipients included Academy Award–nominated actress Angela Bassett ’80 DRA ’83, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Marilynne Robinson, prominent astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and poet Elizabeth Alexander ’84 — who left her position as the chair of African American Studies Department for Columbia University in 2016.

Salovey praised each recipient for their contribution in their sphere of influence, calling Bassett “an actress of range and power” and DeGrasse Tyson “a bright star in humanity’s sky” to applause and cheer from the audience.

Graduating seniors hail from all 50 states of the United States and 53 countries all over the world, said Vice President for Communications Eileen O’Connor, who gave a live commentary on the event with former Head of Jonathan Edwards College and Special Assistant to University President Penelope Laurans as the procession began. O’Connor added that 77 percent of the Yale College graduates are already employed and that 15 percent already have plans to go directly to graduate and professional schools.

Following the 317th commencement, members of Yale College and the professional schools proceeded to their respective residential colleges or schools to receive their diplomas, marking the finale of Yale’s 2018 graduation ceremonies.

Jingyi Cui | jingyi.cui@yale.edu

Ashna Gupta | ashna.gupta@yale.edu