New York University Board of Trustees Chairman Laurence A. Tisch and NYU President L. Jay Oliva today officiated at the University’s 165th Commencement.

NYU Holds 165th Commencement

Some 7,000 Graduating Students Participate in Park Ceremony University Bestows Honorary Degrees on Physicist Paolo Blasi; Seagram Chairman and Philanthropist Edgar Bronfman; and Architect/Sculptor Maya Lin

New York University Board of Trustees Chairman Laurence A. Tisch and NYU President L. Jay Oliva today officiated at the University’s 165th Commencement. Some 7,000 students receiving undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees attended the morning ceremony.

The ceremony, which was attended by an additional 7,000 faculty members, alumni, family members and guests, was held in Washington Square Park, at the heart of NYU’s Greenwich Village Campus.

New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman and entertainer William H. Cosby, Jr.* were the 1997 Commencement speakers; each received an honorary doctorate. The University also bestowed honorary doctorates on Paolo Blasi, a physicist and rector of the University of Florence; Edgar Miles Bronfman, chairman of the Seagram Company and philanthropist; and Maya Lin, architect, sculptor and designer.

The Albert Gallatin Medal, awarded each year to a member of the University community who has made an outstanding contribution to society, was presented this year by Dr. Oliva to entrepreneur, humanitarian and philanthropist Larry A. Silverstein, president of Silverstein Properties and both an alumnus and trustee of the University.

Dr. Oliva said, “It is a great privilege for our community to meet each year for Commencement Exercises in Washington Square Park, in the heart of Greenwich Village. It is a spectacular setting in which to congratulate our graduates, their families, and the eminent visitors who come to share in our celebration.”

In keeping with an NYU tradition, the University torch – designed by Tiffany and Co. and donated to the University in 1911 – was once again passed from a senior member of the faculty to the youngest undergraduate degree recipient. This year, the torch was passed from Jerome Berkowitz, a professor of mathematics at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences who joined the NYU faculty 41 years ago, to 18-year-old Cie Siyavash Sharp, who is receiving a B.A. from the College of Arts and Science.

The 1997 Student Speaker at Commencement was Rachel Johnson, who received her B.A. from NYU’s College of Arts and Science. Ms. Johnson, who has a 3.94 grade point average and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, will pursue a joint MD/Ph.D. degree at Johns Hopkins. During her time at NYU, she did volunteer work with foster children at a Harlem medical clinic, advised students in the Academic Achievement Program, and tutored her peers in chemistry.

*In June 2018, NYU's Board of Trustees rescinded the honorary degree Mr. Cosby was awarded in 1997.

New York University, located in the heart of Greenwich Village, is one of America’s premier urban research universities and is the nation’s largest private university. NYU offers undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees through its 13 colleges and schools.