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By Fatima Mirza, Crimson Staff Writer

The tally of more than 360,000 living Harvard alumni grew by roughly 7,500 as undergraduate and graduate students from every school of the University marched in Thursday’s Commencement ceremonies.

With fanfare and nostalgia, Thursday’s commemoration marked the close of the University’s yearlong 375th anniversary celebration.

During her speech, University President Drew G. Faust recognized the momentous anniversary year. “There are few institutions in this country or even the world that can claim such longevity,” she said.

She also recognized students graduating with highest Latin honors and conferred honorary degrees on eight attendees, including Commencement day speaker Fareed R. Zakaria, a noted journalist and CNN host.

“In the name of this society of scholars, I declare that these persons are entitled to the rights and privileges pertaining to their several degrees, and that their names are to be forever borne on its roll of honorary members,” Faust said.

In his Commencement address, Zakaria argued that the world is in a position of peace, with the United States remaining at the top of the pecking order. But while much of his speech rested on an international outlook, his parting advice was more personal.

“You will never understand how much your parents love you until you have children of your own,” he said. “Get up, today of all days, and hug your parents and tell them you love them.”

During the ceremonies on Thursday, Paul J. Finnegan ’75 was elected as the newest member of the Harvard Corporation. Six overseers also formally joined the Harvard Board of Overseers.

James F. Rothenberg ’68, treasurer of the University, also announced the record-breaking donation that the Class of 1977 made to Harvard.

“This class has a history of breaking reunion records, and it has now officially broken the all-time Harvard reunion gift record for any Harvard class in any year by raising an extraordinary $68.7 million,” Rothenberg said. “That number even makes the president of Harvard smile a little bit.”

Rothenberg also commended the Class of 2012 for a 78 percent participation rate in amassing the “largest senior gift on record.”

Three student orators—Anthony C. Hernandez ’12, Jonathan Service, and Michael K. Velchik ’12—opened the ceremony, each with a five-minute address.

—Staff writer Fatima N. Mirza can be reached at

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:


An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the Class of 1962 made a record-breaking $68.7 million donation to Harvard. In fact, it was the Class of 1977.

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CommencementFundraisingUniversity FinancesHarvard Corporation375th AnniversaryCommencement 2012