Yale Bulletin and Calendar

May 26, 2000Volume 28, Number 33

Yale celebrates 299th Commencement

Harkness Tower's carillon rang out triumphant melodies as graduates, faculty and staff, honorary degree recipients and guests gathered on Old Campus on May 22, to celebrate Yale University's 299th Commencement.

Although the day was gray and chilly, the raw weather didn't spoil the high spirits of the 3,000 students and 12,000 friends and relatives who witnessed the celebration.

Ten honorary degrees were awarded. By Yale tradition, these are not announced in advance. However, The New York Times determined that one honorand was to be William F. Buckley Jr. (B.A. 1950), and sprung the surprise, but the other names remained a secret until Commencement.

As Provost Alison Richard called each degree recipient to step forward the audience applauded enthusiastically. But when the Right Reverend Desmond M. Tutu, Anglican archbishop emeritus and anti-apartheid leader of South Africa, was named, everyone rose to their feet in a spontaneous outpouring of respect and admiration.

In awarding the degree to Tutu, President Richard C. Levin said, in part: "You led your nation in an unprecedented search for healing, through a process of remembering and judging and forgiving. Working for the good of all, you have refused to grow weary in doing what is right. Your witness for peace inspires us. ..."

In addition to Buckley and Tutu, honorary degrees were awarded to Gerhard Casper (LL.M. 1962), president of Stanford University; Frank O. Gehry, architect; New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan; Hugh B. Price (LL.B. 1966), president of the National Urban League; Marie de la Soudière, international refugee worker and child advocate; playwright Sir Tom Stoppard; Dr. Samuel Osiah Thier, president and CEO of Partners HealthCare System, Inc.; and Helen Vendler, professor of literature at Harvard University.

A little after 10 a.m., the main branch of the many-streamed academic processional marched across the New Haven Green and onto Old Campus. As the Yale Band passed under Phelps Gate, four long heralds' trumpets sounded the "Richard C. Levin Fanfare," composed by Thomas C. Duffy, musical director and associate dean of the School of Music. The fanfare is based on a medieval technique, sogetto cavato, which transposes alphabetic letters into musical notes. In this case, the initials of Levin's name became a three-note motif for the piece, which was then embellished and varied by the full band to produce a ceremonial march honoring the President.

Charles H. Long, deputy provost and lecturer in English, led the academic procession carrying the University Mace, a 47-inch-long silver-gilt shaft that weighs 24-pounds and is rich with symbolic ornamentation. Numerous other marshals, both faculty and students, wielded symbolic maces and batons. Each school and residential college was accompanied by its heraldic banners, carried by students designated for special honors.

Once everyone was seated, the Reverend Frederick J. Streets, University chaplain, addressed the Class of 2000, gave the invocation, praying: "Help us to challenge injustice and come swiftly to the aid of those who are suffering and oppressed. ... Those whom we are sending forth into the greater world and the ideals they hold give us hope for the future. Gracious God, bless them to use their gifts to meet all challenges and better our common life. We pray that they will fulfill their promise. Give them wisdom, grant them peace and sustain them as they continue their journey."

Following the invocation, the degrees were granted, one school at a time, beginning with Yale College and proceeding through the 12 professional and graduate schools. The President and the deans of each school exchanged the time-honored formula:

Dean: "Mr. President, I have the honor to present candidates for the degrees of ... They have been recommended by the faculty of the School and approved by the Corporation. I now ask you, by your official act, to confer upon them these degrees."

President: "By the authority vested in me, I confer upon you the degrees as designated by the Dean and admit you to all their rights and responsibilities."

With those words -- which were spoken in Latin for the Ph.D. candidates -- the undergraduate, graduate and professional students were transformed into Yale alumni.

At the conclusion of the Commencement ceremonies, the Right Reverend Victoria Matthews, bishop of the Anglican Church in Canada and a fellow of the Yale Corporation, offered a stirring benediction, excerpted below:

"May the years that [the graduating students] have spent here at Yale University become the foundation of lives spent in the service of others. May the advantages they have enjoyed in this place bring grace and gift to others as they now move into the larger community ... As our graduates go out into the world, we pray for them greatness of heart, a spirit of hope, a deep commitment to serve, the capacity to dream and the sure knowledge that they are Your children, created in Your image, redeemed by Your love and graced by Your spirit."

Diploma and awards ceremonies were held at the residential colleges and professional schools for their respective students, following the main ceremony.

-- By Gila Reinstein

C O M M E N C E M E N T2 0 0 0


Baccalaureate Address

Honorary Degrees

Senior Class Day

Teaching Prizes

Scholastic Prizes

Roosevelt L. Thompson Prize

Athletic Awards

David Everett Chantler Prize

Other Student Awards and Honors

Wilbur Cross Medals


Yale celebrates 299th Commencement

Fellowship winners to pursue summer study across the globe

Yale helps the new 'Amistad' set sail on its educational mission

Festival Time: Celebrations of art, music and culture at Yale, city sites

Environmental leaders to join school's faculty

Conservation leaders named McCluskey Fellows

Alumni return to campus to celebrate reunions

Researcher links unexplained car accidents and heart irregularities

Center's family celebration will mark Cancer Survivors Day

Family Festival to celebrate Yale Art Gallery exhibitions

Students will teach in China, Hong Kong

Movie theaters 'pitch in' to raise funds for Yale pediatric programs

Edmund Gordon is honored for his achievements

'Feminist humor maven' will speak at campaign school

Symposium will pay tribute to Dr. Marvin Sears

Fair will highlight continuing education

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