Yale News

Yalies enjoyed the sunshine and Old Campus’s freshly-cut grass on Monday as they joined guests, faculty and administrators for the University’s 321st Commencement ceremony. 

Decked out in caps, gowns and colorful sashes representing their residential colleges and schools, Yale College, graduate school and professional school graduates marched to Old Campus together one final time. For the first time in three years, the families, friends and guests of graduates were able to attend the ceremony in person. Yale College graduates raised their voices in the chants of their residential colleges as they took their seats on the lawn. Yale conferred a total of 4,313 degrees, including 1,379 degrees for graduates of Yale College. 

“We gather to recognize the extraordinary accomplishments of all of you, who have worked so hard to complete your programs of study. We salute your effort, your diligence, your talent and your intellect,” University President Peter Salovey said as he opened the ceremony. “We also join you in expressing gratitude for all who have supported you in these endeavors — your families, friends, teachers and other members of the Yale community.”

After Salovey’s remarks, University Chaplain Sharon Kugler continued with an invocation, additionally offering “deep gratitude” to the Quinnipiac people and the land on which Yale stands. 

Yale College Dean Marvin Chun presented 861 Bachelor of Arts and 518 Bachelor of Science degrees. Two marshals from each of the 14 residential colleges accepted degrees on behalf of the class.

Following Chun, deans from Yale’s graduate and professional schools each presented candidates from their schools to Salovey, who conferred different sets of degrees and certificates. In total, Salovey officially awarded 77 in the School of Architecture, 49 in the School of Art, 43 in the David Geffen School of Drama, 115 in the School of Music, 133 in the School of Nursing, 146 in the School of the Environment, 594 in the School of Management, 135 in the Divinity School, 972 in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, 184 in the School of Public Health and 130 in the School of Medicine. The 252 Law School candidates and 104 Master of Medical Science candidates at the School of Medicine will be awarded degrees once they have been recommended by the faculty of their schools and approved by the Yale Corporation. 

At the event, students showed pride for their residential colleges and graduate and professional schools. Amid chants, many waved around small pennants and flags bearing the names of their residential colleges. Morse College graduates even waved red foam axes from their seats, while Silliman College graduates held up inflatable yellow batons. Graduates from the School of the Environment wore caps adorned with flowers, plants and small animals, while some graduates from the Divinity School wore small angel halos made of pipe cleaners above their caps. Per tradition, streamers and confetti erupted from the section where School of Nursing graduates sat when School of Nursing Dean Ann Kurth took to the stage to present candidates.

Led by the Glee Club, the audience sang along to “Thy praise alone.” The hymn was first sung at Yale’s first Commencement in 1718 and has traditionally been sung every year since. University Provost Scott Strobel then presented candidates for honorary doctorate degrees to Salovey.

“The 10 individuals we honor this morning serve as examples to you, our graduates, to encourage you to aspire to excellence, to value those elements of human character that they embody,” Salovey said. “Creativity, curiosity, discipline, integrity and passion for public service.”

Recipients included historian Jill Lepore ’95, U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn and musician Caroline Shaw MUS ’07. Immunologist Drew Weissman and biochemist Katalin Karikó, whose work in mRNA research has been used for the development of COVID-19 vaccines, each received a Doctor of Science. Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright also received a posthumous Doctor of Humane Letters, which her grandson Jake Watson ’22 accepted on behalf of the Albright family. 

After the ceremony closed with a benediction delivered by Yale Divinity School Dean Gregory Sterling, graduates filed out of Old Campus to receive their degrees in individual residential college and professional and graduate school ceremonies. 

Since Chun will step down from his duties as Dean of Yale College in June, this was his last Commencement ceremony spent presenting undergraduate candidates for degrees.

Megan Vaz is the former city desk editor. She previously covered Yale-New Haven relations and Yale unions, additionally serving as an audience desk staffer.