Thousands of graduates, Harvard faculty, friends, and family crowded into Harvard Yard on Thursday for the University's 372nd Commencement Exercises.
Before 8 a.m., students from Harvard's 12 graduate schools and the College processed through the Yard and into Tercentenary Theatre. Above, graduates walk by the John Harvard statue in front of University Hall.
Students from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine walk to their seats in full regalia and with props: a large “Harvard” toothbrush and a printed cutout of a graduate’s face. Family members watch from the side and on the steps of Widener Library at the rear of the Theatre.
Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks speaks to students in the crowd before the start of the ceremony. Hanks delivered this year’s keynote speech and received an honorary degree along with five other recipients.
The commencement ceremony is deeply steeped in tradition, from actors processing in colonial garb before the ceremony on the left to the Sheriff of Middlesex County on the right, who calls to order and adjourns the ceremony by pounding his staff.
Josiah E. Meadows ’23 delivered the Latin Salutatory — an address entirely in Latin — at the start of the ceremony. His address was titled “De Fructibus Institutionis Harvardianæ” or “The Value Of A Harvard Education.”
Hanks hugs Harvard Kennedy School graduate Vic Hogg, who delivered the Graduate English Address.
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and President-elect Claudine Gay confers degrees to candidates from the College.
Students from each program stood up to cheer when their school was announced. A total of 9,110 graduates were granted degrees this year.
Honorary Harvard degrees were bestowed to six recipients. From left to right: Admiral Michael G. Mullen received a doctorate of laws, Nobel Prize-winning chemist Jennifer A. Doudna was given a doctorate of science, and radio executive Hugo N. Morales ’72 accepted a doctorate of humane letters. Historian David Levering Lewis, biochemist Katalin Karikó, and Hanks also received honorary doctorates.
In receiving his honorary degree, Hanks was gifted a volleyball as a reference to his 2000 film “Cast Away.”
Bacow’s remarks concluded the two-and-a-half-hour ceremony. The outgoing University president reflected on his own graduation in Tercentenary Theatre and thanked the Class of 2023 for “being a constant source of hope and optimism.”
The Commencement Choir sang a variety of anthems throughout the ceremony. The choir is composed of students from the Harvard Glee Club, Radcliffe Choral Society, Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium, and members of the Harvard University Choir.
The ceremony concluded shortly after noon and graduates left the gates of the Yard to join their family members and return to their houses for diploma-awarding ceremonies.