University Bestows Honorary Degrees on Actor Alec Baldwin, Educator Robert Max Berdahl, Xerox CEO Ursula M. Burns, Social Entrepreneur Bill Drayton, Jazz Musician and Alum Wayne Shorter, and Sociologist William Julius Wilson
NYU President John Sexton and Trustees Chair Martin Lipton today officiated at NYU’s 178th Commencement in Yankee Stadium. Some 6,000 students receiving undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, and 20,000 guests attended the morning ceremony, which was also attended by alumni, faculty, and other NYU community members.
- Alec Baldwin – the award-winning actor and alumnus of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts – addressed the graduates at today’s ceremony. He received a Doctor of Fine Arts degree, honoris causa.
The University also bestowed honorary doctorates on:
- Robert Max Berdahl -- historian, president of the Association of American Universities, and former Chancellor of the University of California-Berkeley; he received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa
- Ursula M. Burns -- chief executive officer of Xerox and alumna of NYU-Poly; she received a Doctor of Commercial Science degree, honoris causa
- Bill Drayton – social entrepreneur and chief executive officer/founder of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public; he received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa
- Wayne Shorter – award-winning jazz saxophonist and composer, alumnus of NYU’s Steinhardt School; he received a Doctor of Fine Arts degree, honoris causa
- William Julius Wilson – renowned and influential sociologist; he received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa
The recipient of the 2010 “Albert Gallatin Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Society” is lawyer, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and alumna Connie Milstein.
The recipient of the 2010 “Lewis Rudin Award for Exemplary Service to New York City” is Merryl H. Tisch, chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents and an NYU alumna.
Dr. Sexton said, “Commencement is always a bittersweet day. We who stay behind – the faculty, the other students, the administrators and staff – have taken such joy from our years with the talented young men and women who leave us today. But our sorrow is tempered not only by the memories of our fellowship; it is eased also by our knowledge that our graduates will go forth and accomplish so much. There are daunting challenges throughout the world; however, we know that our graduates – in deciding upon NYU, with its embrace of our great and cosmopolitan city and its creation of a global network unparalleled in higher education – are prepared for and welcome the opportunity to confront these global challenges. Knowing this, my heart is filled with hope. We are so pleased to share this moment – this proud and joyful acknowledgement of accomplishment – with the families of our graduates. And we are proud to have in our company today all our distinguished guests, and to confer upon them the honorary degrees and University awards that recognize their service, achievements, leadership, and the example they set for our graduates and our entire community. On behalf of NYU’s faculty and the entire community, I offer my congratulations to our graduates and their families.”
The student speaker at the 2010 Commencement Exercises was Jessica Mason, a 2010 recipient of a bachelor’s degree from NYU’s Silver School of Social Work (where she majored in both social work and history) and one of 10 NYU students named a Reynolds Scholar in Social Entrepreneurship. Her volunteer work during her freshman year led her to create “Undergraduate Pathways,” to build mentoring relationships and promote service learning. She was the co-founder – with classmate Amanda Raposo (SSSW ’11) of “PowerHouse,” a supportive housing project for teen mothers, and was awarded a $10,000 grant from NYU Reynold/Youth Venture Challenge for the project. Over the summer of 2009, she worked with Reciprocity Foundation, which serves homeless youth by connecting them to creative industries. She is also co-president of the Silver School of Social Work student government. Following graduation, she will continue to work for Reciprocity, and will move to Jacmel, Haiti to help create jobs for struggling artisans, and work with artists in the LGBTQ community who have been marginalized.
In keeping with NYU tradition, Commencement included “The Ceremony of the Torch.” The University torch – designed and fashioned by Tiffany and Co. in sterling silver and donated to the University in 1911 – was passed from a senior member of the faculty – Rodolfo Llinas, the Thomas and Suzanne Murphy Professor of Neuroscience and Chair, Department of Physiology and Neuroscience, NYU School of Medicine – to the youngest undergraduate degree recipient in the Class of 2010: Tamaro Kane, an 19 year-old graduate of NYU’s College of Arts and Science.
New York University is located in the heart of Greenwich Village. Founded in 1831, it is one of America’s foremost research universities and a member of the selective Association of American Universities. It is one of the largest private universities, it is a leader in attracting international students and scholars in the U.S., and it sends more students to study abroad than any other U.S. college or university. Through its 18 schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, business, dentistry, education, nursing, the cinematic and performing arts, music and studio arts, public administration, social work, and continuing and professional studies, among other areas.