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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

At 362nd Commencement, 7,321 Are Awarded Degrees

By Matthew Q. Clarida, Crimson Staff Writer

A total of 1,651 Harvard College seniors became graduates Thursday morning as University President Drew G. Faust conferred degrees on the Class of 2013 at the University’s 362nd Commencement exercises in Tercentenary Theatre.

“By virtue of authority delegated to me, I confer on you the first degree in arts or in science, and I admit you to the fellowship of educated women and men,” Faust said to a chorus of cheers from the new graduates and their supporters. “Congratulations.”

Faust conferred the College degrees shortly before 11 a.m. after a long and hot morning of festivities in the Theatre. She also recognized students from Harvard’s 11 other degree-conferring schools, as well as the University Extension School; all told, Faust conferred 7,321 degrees.

The morning began with a long procession through Harvard Yard and into the Theatre, during which degree candidates from across the University sought to add even more spirit to the occasion. Candidates from the Harvard Kennedy School processed with a small, inflatable blue globe in hand, while Divinity School students carried paper fans emblazoned with their school’s logo. Harvard Medical School students waved stethoscopes over their heads and cheered when their degrees were conferred. One graduating student from the Extension School sported a decorative elephant on the top of his cap.

The morning was punctuated by orations delivered by soon-to-be graduates and ended with the awarding of several honorary degrees by Faust. Recipients included Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who grew visibly emotional as his honorary Doctor of Laws degree was conferred, and Oprah Winfrey, the television personality and renowned philanthropist who will address graduates and their supporters at exercises beginning at 2:15 p.m.

—Staff writer Matthew Q. Clarida can be reached at clarida@college.harvard.edu. Follow him on Twitter @MattClarida.

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