- 32,000 folding chairs set up in Harvard Yard (a few of which are pictured above).
- A 60% chance of rain on Commencement day, which did not – thank goodness – come to pass.
- Ten honorary degrees conferred, including one to opera singer Renee Fleming, who sang “America the Beautiful” on Commencement morning in Harvard Yard.
- 701 brand-new graduates from the Graduate School of Education, the corner of Harvard where I work.
- $24,400 (and counting!) raised by 78% (a record percentage!) of those same 701 graduates for their Class Gift campaign. It will go toward financial aid for next year’s students.
- Three times now I’ve stood in Radcliffe Yard and watched our graduates march in. The sight chokes me up every year.
- Eight maps attached to the lanyard I wore around my neck, since my job was directing graduates during the processional.
- Two student friends I got to hug on their way in, and one I found afterward in the melee of families, friends and flapping graduation robes.
- Countless cameras, tweets, tears, Facebook posts, bottles of water, proud family members, and rounds of applause.
Some of this pomp and pageantry is unique to Harvard, and some of it is common to universities the world over. This is an archetypal place, at once beautifully distinctive and deeply familiar. And I am so proud to be a part of its Commencement each year.
Congratulations to all those who graduated. We salute you. We believe, as the Ed School’s dean, Jim Ryan, said yesterday, that you all are going to rock. We know – because of what you have learned here, but more importantly because of who you are – that your work, and your presence, will change the world.
Most of all, we are proud to know you, and grateful to call you our own.