NYU Bestows Honorary Degrees on Attorney David Boies, Scientist Claire Marie Fraser, Afghan Museum Director Omara Khan Masoudi, and Director Oliver Stone

New York University Holds 181st Commencement In Yankee Stadium
NYU Commencement 2013 Grads-in-Stands [NYU Photo Bureau]

NYU President John Sexton and Trustees Chair Martin Lipton today officiated at NYU’s 181st 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.

David Boies – renowned attorney and litigator who is the lead co-counsel in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the historic same-sex marriage civil rights case now before the Supreme Court – addressed the graduates at today’s ceremony on behalf of the honorary degree recipients. Mr. Boies received a Doctor of Laws degree, honoris causa.

The University also bestowed honorary doctorates on:

  • Claire Marie Fraser – professor of medicine and director of the University of Maryland’s Institute for Genome Sciences; she received a Doctor of Science degree, honoris causa.
  • Omara Khan Masoudi – Director General, National Museum of Afghanistan; he received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa.
  • Oliver Stone – Oscar-winning filmmaker and alumnus of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts; he received a Doctor of Fine Arts degree, honoris causa.

The recipients of the 2013 “Albert Gallatin Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Society” were Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller for their leadership at NYU Langone Medical Center and their extraordinary commitment to medical research, education, and poverty initiatives.

The 2013 “Lewis Rudin Award for Exemplary Service to New York City” was presented to Kimberly Glassman, an alumna of the NYU College of Nursing, on behalf of all the nurses at NYU Langone Medical Center whose heroic efforts to save patients’ lives during Hurricane Sandy drew national recognition.

The recipient of the 2013 NYU Presidential Medal was Edith Windsor, an NYU alumna who has bravely waged the fight against the Defense of Marriage Act, the other same-sex marriage case currently being considered by the US Supreme Court.

Dr. Sexton said, “On this, your last day as students at NYU, I want to first congratulate you on your enormous achievement. Your hard work, enthusiasm, and scholarship have infused our campus with energy and vitality, and I am sure prepared you well for life beyond our campus.

"The challenges that confront your generation – climate change and developing sustainable energy sources, political and religious extremism, poverty, to name just a few – may appear daunting and complex. They require men and women with a global outlook who are prepared to act with thoughtfulness, resolve, and wisdom. But I am confident that the lessons you learned at NYU have given you the tools, the knowledge, and the critical thinking skills to take on these challenges and make the world a better place.

"We have strived to do our best to instill in you the drive that will help you succeed. We are humbled by the faith you had in us when you first choose our University for your education. We, in turn, have every faith that you will continue to honor NYU through all that you will accomplish over the coming years and remain important voices in our larger community. It was a joy and an honor to teach you and to learn with you and a privilege to have you in our company. We joyously share this special day with your family and friends, with our distinguished guests, our honorary degree recipients, and the entire NYU community. On behalf of NYU’s faculty, I offer my congratulations and best wishes to all our graduates.”

The student speaker at the 2013 Commencement Exercises was Chelsea Garbell, who graduated summa cum laude from the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and was a national finalist for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.  In her time at NYU, Ms. Garbell compiled an outstanding academic record while representing the intercultural spirit of NYU’s diverse community, building ties among communities and tirelessly engaging in public service.

She served as founder and president of Bridges: Muslim-Jewish Interfaith Dialogue @ NYU that encouraged communication, understanding, and friendship among Jewish and Muslim students. Bridges was featured in the White House Blog in January 2012 when it carried Ms. Garbell’s words: “If we can learn from one another and develop an understanding of our similarities and differences, we can stand together as human beings in an effort to better the world around us.”

Under her leadership, Jewish and Muslim students rebuilt tornado-damaged homes in Alabama and Missouri and her work with Bridges led the Washington Square News to name her one of NYU’s “15 Most Influential Students.” Ms. Garbell has managed social projects for the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance and for the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, and spent her summers in Nepal, Ghana, Israel, and Abu Dhabi participating in public service projects.

She has also been an active member of the American Jewish Committee, sitting on a Muslim-Jewish task force to create interfaith initiatives, and the Planned Parenthood of NYC Activist Council, and was a co-founder of VOX, Voices for Planned Parenthood at NYU. This past summer, she was an intern for U.S. Senator Patty Murray as a fellow of the NYU John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress.

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 – Ingo Walter, the Seymour Milstein Professor of Ethics and Corporate Governance and Strategy at the Leonard N. Stern School of Business – to the youngest undergraduate degree recipient in the Class of 2013 – Gwendolyn L. Weston, a 19-year-old graduate of the College of Arts and Science.

New York University, founded in 1831, is one of the world’s foremost research universities and a member of the selective Association of American Universities. NYU has degree-granting university campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai; has a eleven other global academic site, 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, social work, and continuing and professional studies, among other areas.

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