NYU Bestows Honorary Degrees on Fed Chair Janet Yellen, Yankees Pitching Great Mariano Rivera, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, Singer Aretha Franklin and Distinguished Attorney Martin Edelman
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NYU President John Sexton and Trustees Chair Martin Lipton today officiated at NYU’s 182nd Commencement in Yankee Stadium. Some 8,000 students receiving undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees and 25,000 guests attended the morning ceremony, which was also attended by alumni, faculty, and other NYU community members.
Janet Yellen—the first woman to serve as Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System—addressed the graduates and guests at Yankee Stadium. Ms. Yellen received a Doctor of Commercial Science degree, honoris causa at the ceremony.
The University also bestowed honorary doctorates on:
- Mariano Rivera—greatest relief pitcher in baseball history, 13-time All-Star, and winner of five World Series; he received a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
- Elena Kagan—U.S. Supreme Court Justice, law school dean, and U.S. solicitor general; she received a Doctor of Laws degree, honoris causa.
- Aretha Franklin—“the Queen of Soul,” winner of 18 Grammy awards, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom; she received a Doctor of Fine Arts degree, honoris causa.
- Martin Edelman—distinguished international real estate and corporate attorney; he received a Doctor of Laws degree, honoris causa.
The 2014 “Albert Gallatin Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Society” was presented to Judy and Michael Steinhardt, whose extraordinary leadership at NYU and unparalleled commitment to Jewish causes have enhanced the lives of countless men and women in New York and across the globe.
The 2014 “Lewis Rudin Award for Exemplary Service to New York City” was presented to Daniel L. Doctoroff, President and CEO of Bloomberg, L.P., in recognition of his superb record of service to the city as Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding during the Bloomberg administration and his leadership in making New York the vibrant capital of creativity and culture that it is today.
President Sexton said, “We are so proud of our students and their accomplishments, though their departure from our community of scholars, teachers, and learners is bittersweet. But at no time has their ambition, hard work, and energy been more needed than now. The challenges that confront your generation—climate change and sustainable energy sources, political and religious extremism, poverty, to name but a few—are complex and daunting. They require women and men with a global outlook who are prepared to act with courage, with thoughtfulness, with resolve, and with wisdom. Our duty as a University, as we are so clearly reminded on this day of departure and goodbyes, is to help give you, our students, the tools you need—the understanding, the knowledge, the critical-thinking skills—to take on these challenges and to make the world a better place. We are honored by the faith you placed in us by choosing to study here at NYU; please know we have as much faith in you to accomplish great things as you leave us now. It was a joy to teach you and to learn with you, and a privilege to have you in our company. We are so happy to share this day with your families and friends, with our distinguished guests—our honorary degree recipients—and with the entire NYU community. On behalf of NYU’s faculty, I offer my congratulations and best wishes to all our graduates. We are so proud of you.”
The student speaker at the 2014 Commencement Exercises was Corey Blay, who graduated with a dual MBA/MPA degree from the Leonard N. Stern School of Business and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Mr. Blay came to NYU after teaching history at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, a prestigious private school in the Bronx, where he also planned a middle school and founded a youth advocacy organization in Harlem. Mr. Blay’s major research project at NYU was a historical analysis of city policy in Harlem dating back to 1935. He served as Vice President for External Relations for the Stern student government, was elected a student senator at-large, and served as one of two student representatives on the University Space Priorities Working Group, which was formed to provide guidance on the University’s space needs. His ambition is to build a private middle school in Upper Manhattan that will prepare young men of color for success in competitive academic environments.
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 – Ruth Danon, clinical professor in the Paul McGhee Division of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies—to the youngest undergraduate degree recipient in the Class of 2014—Cassidy Shea Pahl, a 19-year-old graduate from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study.
New York University, founded in 1831, is one of the world’s foremost research universities and is a member of the selective Association of American Universities. NYU has degree-granting university campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai; has eleven other global academic sites, including London, Paris, Florence, Tel Aviv, Buenos Aires, and Accra; and sends more students to study abroad than any other U.S. college or university. Through its numerous 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, engineering, social work, and continuing and professional studies, among other areas.