Poet Elizabeth Alexander addressed some 10,000 students receiving undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees at the morning ceremony.
NYU President Andrew Hamilton and Trustees Chair William Berkley today officiated NYU’s 187th Commencement at Yankee Stadium. Some 10,000 students receiving undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees and more than 30,000 family, friends, alumni, faculty, and other NYU community members attended the morning ceremony.
This was the fourth Commencement presided over by Hamilton and Berkley.
Elizabeth Alexander, celebrated poet, educator, bestselling memoirist, and president of The Mellon Foundation – the nation’s largest funder in arts and culture, and humanities in higher education – addressed the graduates and guests on behalf of all the degree recipients. Alexander, who was selected to compose and recite her original poem Praise Song for the Day at President Obama’s inauguration at 2009, received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa, at the ceremony.
This year’s other recipients of honorary doctorates were:
• Abdel Kader Haidara—Malian researcher, manuscripts prospector, director of the private library Mamma Haidara of Timbuktu, and executive chairman of the SAVAMA-DCI NGO responsible for rescuing 400,000 historic manuscripts from destruction by jihadists; he received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa.
• Carla Diane Hayden—the first woman and the first African American to serve as Librarian of Congress; she received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa.
• Douglas R. Lowy (MED ’68)—acting director of the National Cancer Institute whose research led to the development of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine; he received a Doctor of Science degree, honoris causa.
• Terrence McNally—four-time Tony Award-winning playwright, member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and author of numerous Broadway plays including Love! Valour! Compassion! and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune; he received a Doctor of Fine Arts degree, honoris causa.
The Albert Gallatin Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Society was presented to NYU President Emeritus John Sexton. Sexton received his award in recognition of his achievements in higher education, overseeing the tremendous growth in NYU’s reach and stature and serving as chief architect of the NYU Global Network University, a network of 11 international academic centers on six continents and degree-granting campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai.
The Lewis Rudin Award for Exemplary Service to New York City was presented to Martin Lipton, Chairman Emeritus of the NYU Board of Trustees, and a current Trustee of NYU, the NYU School of Law, and NYU Langone Health. Lipton was recognized for his long history of building civic institutions, from expanding access to higher education to young people of all economic backgrounds to his key role in rescuing the City of New York from bankruptcy, from his contributions to rebuilding the World Trade Center after 9/11 to his thoughtful, dedicated leadership of crucial civic organizations.
The “Presidential Medal” was presented to Yu Lizhong, Chancellor of NYU Shanghai, for his pioneering work in global education as the inaugural leader of the first Sino-US joint research university in partnership with East China Normal University.
The student speaker at the 2019 Commencement Exercises was Alfonso E. Morgan-Terrero, who graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Tisch School of the Arts.
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—Mary Cowman, associate dean for Bioengineering and professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Tandon School of Engineering and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the School of Medicine—to the youngest undergraduate degree recipient in the Class of 2019—Daniel Obaji, an 18-year-old who received a BS from NYU Abu Dhabi.
In honor of the NYU graduates, New York City’s Empire State Building was illuminated in violet on the eve of commencement, May 21.
About New York University
Founded in 1831, NYU 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 11 other global academic sites, including London, Paris, Florence, Tel Aviv, Buenos Aires, and Accra; and both sends more students to study abroad and educates more international students than any other US college or university. Through its numerous schools and colleges, NYU is a leader in conducting research and providing 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 professional studies, among other areas.