Sanna Marin, Finland’s prime minister, addressed some 13,000 students receiving undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees

Sanna Marin, prime minister of Finland, addresses NYU graduates at the university's 190th commencement. ©Francis: Courtesy of NYU Photo Bureau.
Sanna Marin, prime minister of Finland, addresses NYU graduates at the university's 190th commencement. ©Francis: Courtesy of NYU Photo Bureau.

NYU President Andrew Hamilton and Trustees Chair William Berkley today officiated at NYU’s 190th Commencement at Yankee Stadium. Some 13,000 students receiving undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees and more than 26,000 family, friends, alumni, faculty, and other NYU community members attended the ceremony.

Sanna Marin—the youngest person, at the time of her appointment as Finland’s prime minister, ever to serve as a head of any government—received a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. She delivered remarks on behalf of the honorary degree recipients.

"The face of power is not the same as the face of the people—and this has to change," Marin said. "I also want things to change, but I cannot do it alone. I need you and others with me to make the world more equal, more sustainable, and more just. I know I’m not alone with this thought. I know many of you want the same and together we can make it a reality."

President Hamilton said to the graduates, “You have excelled in your studies, reached new heights of artistic expression and athletic performance, found new interests and cemented new friendships, sought to turn new ideas into reality, started new businesses, and served the community. So as you step out into the world, I want you to remember what compels us here at NYU. Your curiosity, imagination, and ingenuity. Your quest for discovery and impact, and your search for common ground among differences. Let these carry you through whatever path your journey takes you.”

This year’s other recipients of honorary doctorates were:

Carolyn Bertozzi—Nobel Laureate; MacArthur “genius” award recipient; member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Inventors; and the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences and Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University. She received a Doctor of Science degree, honoris causa.

Misty Copeland—a prodigy in the field of ballet, the first African American woman to be named a principal dancer in the history of American Ballet Theatre, and a New York Times bestselling author who was named to Time Magazine’s “Time 100.” She received a Doctor of Fine Arts degree, honoris causa.

Freeman A. Hrabowski—the President Emeritus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; a member of the National Academy of Engineering whose research has focused on science and math education; and a noted, award-winning, innovative educational leader who has been a pacesetter in advancing STEM education to underrepresented minorities. He received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa.

The student speaker at the 2023 Commencement Exercises was Donovan Dior Dixon, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy degree, jointly offered by the College of Arts and Science and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

“Today, we step into the world with our torches burning bright,” Dixon said. “Let us celebrate this achievement while also remembering to aid those searching for a brighter tomorrow. It doesn’t matter if you reach one person or one million people—you will have planted the seeds of change. Because one torch can shine a light, but 22,000 will illuminate the sky. And with that illumination comes transformation—the opportunity for us to usher in the day when our society is free from fear, guided by hope, and bound by everlasting love for one another. This is the task of our generation.”

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—J. Anthony Movshon, a professor of neural science and psychology in Arts and Science and a professor of ophthalmology, neuroscience, and physiology at Grossman School of Medicine—to the youngest undergraduate degree recipient in the Class of 2023—Morgan Xu, an 18-year-old who received a BA from the College of Arts and Science.

Founded in 1831, NYU is one of the world’s foremost research universities (with more than $1 billion per year in research expenditures) 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 12 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 U.S. 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.

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