Under a blissful blue sky and in front of a standing-room-only crowd of more than 30,000, a total of 6,165 students were awarded undergraduate and graduate degrees Harvard's 349th Commencement exercises in Tercentenary Theatre.
University President Neil L. Rudenstine--who has announced he will step down from his position at the end of next year--presided over the ceremony. A new president will be known by the time of next year's Commencement.
Amidst chants of "Rudy" from undergraduates, Rudenstine conferred degrees on Harvard College seniors, slightly modifying the phrasing that has been used in past Commencement ceremonies.
"By the virtue of authority delegated to me I may confer on you the first degree in the Arts or in the Sciences," Rudenstine told the 1,676 seniors after hesitating for a moment. "And I do finally admit you to the fellowship of educated persons."
This was the first time graduating Harvard College women were given the same diplomas as men--a result of Radcliffe College's metamorphosis into the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
After Middlesex County Sheriff called the "meeting" to order, University Provost Harvey V. Fineberg '67 began the ceremony of "beginnings and endings."
Before degrees were awarded, three speakers--two undergraduates and one graduate student--addressed the throngs of family, friends and well-wishers.
During her Latin Salutatory, Kathleen A. Stetsko '00 left students laughing with her reflections on her time at Harvard, although her remarks went over the heads of the most people in the crowd. Only graduating seniors were given an English translation to follow during the speech.