Campus & Community

‘Only the beginning’

5 min read

As Harvard’s 364th Commencement ends, the world awaits

With cameos by former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, world-famous soprano Renée Fleming, and even Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman ’03, Harvard’s 364th Commencement could not be described as boring. But in between the moments of glamour and the reverence of tradition were deep-hitting remarks about the newly minted graduates’ place in a shifting world.

President Drew Faust reminded alumni that Harvard’s work is “about that ongoing commitment, not to a single individual or even one generation or one era, but to a larger world and to the service of the age that is waiting before it.”

Patrick, the speaker at Afternoon Exercises, told the crowd, “I want us to be uneasy about the chronic desperation of communities some of us are just one generation away from living in; about the way we dehumanize the fellow souls we call ‘alien’; about the carelessness with which we treat the planet itself.”

There were laughs, certainly tears, but as Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister Jonathan Walton observed, this week is called Commencement because it’s “only the beginning.”

Students greet each other under the flag at University Hall prior to the Baccalaureate Service held each year inside the Memorial Church. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
ROTC Commissioning Ceremony guest speaker U.S. Army Gen. David. G. Perkins delivers remarks. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Natalie Portman, the Academy Award-winning actress, returned to Harvard Wednesday afternoon to address graduating seniors during the annual Class Day celebration in summery Tercentenary Theatre. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Fadhal Moore ’15 and Michelle Ferreol ’15 received the 2015 Ames Award, an honor bestowed on those who exhibit exemplary leadership and passion for helping others. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
The line to enter the Harvard’s 364th Commencement Exercises wrapped around the block on Massachusetts Avenue. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
Custodians Bill Dyer (from right), Michael Shaw, Paul Hughes, and Tom Gallagher high-five graduates as they head into Tercentenary Theatre. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
Raphael Arku, S.D. ’15, and his 4-year-old daughter, Souzana, celebrate outside the Carpenter Center during Commencement. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Jonathan Walton, the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister, gives “A Service for Seniors” in the Memorial Church during Commencement. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
President Drew Faust (center, in black) and Harvard Provost Alan Garber (front row, far left) pose with this year’s honorary degree recipients: (front row, from left) Renée Fleming, Gov. Deval Patrick, Svetlana Alpers, Robert Axelrod (back row, left to right), William Brocker, Denis Mukwege, Patricia Graham, Linda Buck, Bryan Stevenson, and Peter Salovey. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
Commencement marshals are pictured in the Yard. The marshals organize the processions from the Schools and Houses. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Anna Dolan ’15 (right) watches the procession into Tercentenary Theatre. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Danoff Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana walks through graduates. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
Harvard President Drew Faust greets Sietse Goffard ’15 before Commencement. Provost Alan Garber is in the background. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
James P. McGlone delivers the Latin oration during Commencement Exercises. “Knowing this language has improved the quality of my writing,” said McGlone. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Harvard Commencement begins with the cry, “Sheriff, pray give us order,” which was delivered in style by Middlesex County Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
One of the most acclaimed opera singers and sopranos of all time, Renée Fleming sang “America the Beautiful.” Fleming also received an honorary Doctor of Music degree. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Mandi Nyambi (from left), Chika-Dike Nwokike, and Chisom Okpala celebrate good times. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Graduates of the School of Education hold books overhead as they celebrate the conferral of their degrees. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
Jovonne Bickerstaff sheds some tears as she and Jacqueline Rivers rise for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ conferral of degrees. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister Jonathan Walton leads the benediction. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
“I don’t want unrest in the streets. But I do want unrest in our hearts and minds,” Deval Patrick told graduates during his Commencement address. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Families from around the world convene at Commencement, but sprightly Kulia (left) and Hihimanu Montgomery traveled to Cambridge from perhaps the farthest point in the United States — Oahu, Hawaii — to see their sister Paoakalani graduate. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was honored at Radcliffe Day. She was introduced by her former benchmate, retired Associate Justice David Souter ’61, LLB ’66. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Supreme Court Associate Justice and this year’s Radcliffe Medalist Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks during Radcliffe Day. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer