In a time of COVID-19, NYU’s Commencement featured a mixture of live and recorded elements, including messages from Dr. Anthony Fauci, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Actor Daniel Dae Kim, and President of the American Civil Liberties Union Deborah Archer.
In a ceremony modified by a pandemic that has changed so many of the routines of University life in this unique academic year, NYU President Andrew Hamilton today officiated NYU’s live-streamed All-University Commencement at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. NYU awarded more than 18,500 undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees; more than 10,000 family, friends, alumni, faculty, and other NYU community members tuned in. Members of the Class of 2021 will be invited back for a live ceremony at a later date during the 2021-22 academic year.
The Commencement ceremony kicked off with the traditional procession of the platform party, accompanied by the NYU Pipes and Drums. President Hamilton presided over a program that included both live speeches and recorded messages from the following:
- Deborah Archer, NYU Professor of Clinical Law and President of the American Civil Liberties Union;
- Board of Trustees Chair William Berkley (STERN, ‘66);
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to the President of the United States;
- U.S. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (LAW ‘97);
Daniel Dae Kim (TSOA, ‘96), Screen Actors Guild Award-winner and NYU alumnus;
- Poet and NYU Class of 2021 graduate Lydia Mason (CAS), who composed a poem for the ceremony entitled Faces Unseen;
- 2021 graduate Diya Radhakrishna, valedictorian of the Global Liberal Studies program;
- NYU Alumni Association President and Trustee Dasha Rettew (GAL, ‘14); and
- U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.
“You [the Class of 2021] have an incredible awareness of the problems facing our world today, and I can’t tell you how encouraged I’ve been seeing how many of you have raised your voices to become advocates for real change,” said Kim, who is also an NYU parent, in a video message. “Part of that, I like to think, is your education in places like New York City..[and in NYU campuses] all around the world. The perspective that that provides simply cannot be measured. You’ve seen first hand the movements, the marches, the victories, the tragedies—you’ve seen humanity, at its best and at its worst. That first hand experience makes you truly unique witnesses to history as it’s being made, and as a result, it puts you in a place like no other to do something about it.”
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 (Judith Haber from the Rory Meyers College of Nursing) to the youngest undergraduate degree recipient in the Class of 2021 (Victoria Tong, 19, from the College of Arts and Science).
In honor of the NYU graduates, New York City’s Empire State Building was illuminated in violet on the eve of commencement, May 18.