On Commencement Day, a sea of crimson can be seen from every corner of Harvard Yard. As each graduate prepares to take the reins on a new chapter of life, thousands of spectators — friends, family, colleagues, spouses, even pets — cheer in support. They sit in the front rows, perch on top of Pusey Library, and stand on the steps of Widener Library to be a part of this tradition. Bringing together people from all walks of life, Commencement Day is filled with thousands of vignettes of every person in attendance — graduates, military members, alumni, faculty, a former president, and even the “Queen of Soul.” People who otherwise may never cross paths come together to celebrate Commencement Day ceremonies.

— Crystal Chandler

 

1 Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church Jonathan Walton and Harvard President Drew Faust lead the procession to the Baccalaureate Service for the Class of 2014. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
2 President Drew Faust and the Rev. Jonathan Walton shake hands after the annual Baccalaureate Service, held inside the Memorial Church. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
3 Graduate Taylor Evans was among seven other ROTC members who received their first military assignments during the ROTC Commissioning Ceremony. Evans’ mother (not pictured), his wife, Stephanie, daughter, Haylee, and son, Connor, joined him for the event. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
4 Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg shared an onstage laugh during Class Day, where she was the featured speaker. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
5 Dean Donald Pfister received a standing ovation during Class Day at Harvard University. Pfister is the outgoing interim dean of Harvard College. Rakesh Khurana, the Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership Development at Harvard Business School, will become the new dean of Harvard College on July 1. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
6 A lone graduate passes the Littauer Building on Commencement morning. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
7 Members of the Bedford Minuteman Company, a marching and ceremonial unit, parade through Tercentenary Theatre during Commencement. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
8 President Drew Faust (center, in black) and Harvard Provost Alan Garber (front row, second from left) pose with this year’s honorary degree recipients: (front row, from left) Seymour Slive, Michael Bloomberg, former President George H.W. Bush, Peter Raven (back row, left to right), Patricia King, Joseph E. Stiglitz, Isabel Allende, and Aretha Franklin. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
9 Harvard Corporation member James Breyer (left) and Commencement speaker Michael Bloomberg onstage. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
10 Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian starts Commencement at the traditional cry, “Sheriff, pray give us order!” Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
11 Hazel Harmon, 2, looks on in wonder with her father, James Harmon ’93. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
12 Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin acknowledges the crowd after delivering a moving rendition of the national anthem. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
13 Harvard Business School graduates Malike Abacioglu (from left), Marisa Clark, and Diva Ramola enjoy Commencement exercises. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
14 Spectators watch Commencement from above Pusey Library. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
15 Shilpa Murthy (top row, from left), Kanchana Amaratunga, and Jennifer Cai cheer on fellow graduates. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
16 Aretha Franklin receives an honorary degree in the arts. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
17 Former President George H.W. Bush acknowledges applause after receiving his honorary degree. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
18 Elizabeth Mary Parker attends Commencement activities outside of Winthrop House. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
19 Incoming Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana tosses his cap at a Cabot house diploma ceremony. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
20 During the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association, the oldest alumna in attendance, Lillian Sugarman ’37, heads the row and shares a laugh with Happy Committee member Brandon Geller. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
21 Jack Reardon (center) is applauded after receiving a special award as Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith (left) and Harvard Corporation senior fellow Robert D. Reischauer (right) look on. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
22 Michael R. Bloomberg speaks during Commencement exercises. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
23 Harvard University President Drew Faust is named the 2014 Radcliffe Medalist. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
24 President Drew Faust embraces former Harvard president Neil Rudenstine after she received the 2014 Radcliffe Medal. Rudenstine recruited Faust to Harvard, and Faust was the founding dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer