Just prior to Bush, former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who graduated from the Business School in 1966, received an honorary degree. Bloomberg will deliver the Commencement address during the Afternoon Exercises.
Franklin, the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, received a standing ovation from many of the graduates when she received her honorary degree.
Garber, who spoke about each honorand, called Franklin, “her regal highness, the Queen of Soul.”
In addition to receiving an honorary degree, she performed the national anthem during the morning exercises.
The eight honorands were the first to receive degrees during the Commencement Exercises. The University awarded 7,301 degrees and 33 certificates on Thursday, including 1,662 to students at the College and 1,003 to students at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Many of the graduating seniors sitting in Tercentenary Theater bore red duct tape on their caps as a symbol of the activism that had been a dominant theme in campus discussions over the past year.
Last year’s recipients of honorary degrees included television host Oprah Winfrey, the 2013 Commencement speaker, and former Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. Since 2006, Harvard has awarded multiple honorary degrees each year to prominent figures from a range of professional backgrounds.
Also during the Morning Exercises, graduating senior Timothy J. Barry-Heffernan ’14 delivered the Latin Salutatory, during which he discarded his cap in favor of a Roman military helmet.
The exercises also featured the senior English address entitled “The [Harvard] Spring,” given by Sarah F. Abushaar ’14, in which she compared graduating seniors to revolutionaries in the Arab Spring.
Abushaar was followed by Kennedy School graduate Philip A. Harding, who delivered the graduate English address that featured stories of George Washington’s time at Harvard in 1775.
—Staff writer Matthew Q. Clarida can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mattclarida.
—Staff writer Dev A. Patel can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @dev_a_patel.