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NYU holds 181st All University Commencement at Yankee Stadium

Posted on May 22, 2013 | by Hanqing Chen



NYU’s 181st commencement is about to begin at Yankee Stadium, where over 14,000 degree candidates and thousands of their friends and family are filing into the stands. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.

Follow WSN on Twitter and Facebook as we bring you the latest from the ceremony.


10:20 a.m. – Here is the view from the field as the class of 2013 fills up the stadium.

10:35 a.m. - The university color guard leads the platform party as the school procession begins. Each of NYU’s 18 schools walk along the field, represented by the 2013 class banner bearer and dean as well as 2013 class representatives for degrees and certificates.


11:01 – David W. McLaughlin opens the 2013 commencement ceremony, and the crowd stands the National Anthem, performed by Steinhardt senior Bethany Fagan. Her powerful rendition receives thunderous applause from the stands.

11:17 – President Sexton presents Edith Windsor with the NYU Presidential Service Award. Windsor is an NYU alumna who fought against the Defense of Marriage Act, bringing her case before the Supreme Court.

“As the highest court in the land deliberates your case, United States v. Windsor, you, our beloved graduate, are a moving testament to the power and tenacity of this nation’s evolving search for justice and equality,” President Sexton said.

11:37 - Commencement Speaker David Boies takes the stage.

Speaker David Boies begins his speech with humility, acknowledging that many students will forget what he has said at Yankee Stadium today. Acknowledging that many graduation speeches are littered with platitudes of equality and equal opportunity that are the foundations of the United States, he frames graduates’ journey in terms of his lifelong fight for equality of marriage as a part of history of civil rights in the United States. He begins with the struggles of minorities to Prop 8 and the current battle in the Supreme Court.

He emphasizes that his fight is beyond the “platitudes” that we use on a daily basis.

“The problem is that its too easy to dismiss platitudes,” he said. “A good definition of platitudes is something that is so true and repeated so often that people tend to ignore it. One of the greater platitudes of our country is that everyone is created equal.”

Inviting students to participate in the fight for equality, Boies leaves with this message:

“As everyone knows at the platitude stage, everyone is entitled to equal protection … Someday the United States Supreme Court will recognize it. Hopefully in June, but if not in June, there will come a day. So congratulations and join us in trying to make platitudes real.”

11:45 - President John Sexton takes the stage, applauding students and members of the NYU community. His speech centers around his pride in the NYU student community, and he emphasizes that students are part of the NYU family.

I hope we gave you an education worthy of your talents and even more of your aspirations,” he told graduates. “Congratulations to your and your loved ones from your NYU family, your other family to which you indelibly belong. Hugs to each of you.”

11:55 – NYU Polytechnic Institute President takes the podium.

11: 57 – Student Speaker Chelsea Garbell takes the stage.

Garbell opens address by reflecting on the history that has come to pass in the last four years. She underscores the idea that in the age of Twitter and Instagram, small actions can and have brought about monumental change.

She asks her classmates to be conscious of the impact of their actions.

“Be aware of your actions and have intention as you strive for the lives you envision for yourselves and for others,” she said. “Take a look around at the people in this stadium, at yourselves, and ask, ‘What moments do I want realized? What kind of life and what kind of world do I want to build?’”

In her final words, she introduces “Diamonds,” a video by Clive Davis students.

“Hang on to this moment,” Garbell said. “Mark it as something special. Never forget how it feels right now to be this person, this age, surrounded by these people. Hold that inside of you as you move forward in the world.”

12:35 – Degrees are officially conferred upon all graduates. Congratulations to the class of 2013!

The cast of “The Reality Show: NYU”, a show traditionally performed for freshmen during Welcome Week at the beginning of students’ college careers, take the stage with a nostalgic take on “Learn to Love and Live.”

Thank you for following our coverage of the 2013 all-university commencement. For coverage of individual school commencements, check out our commencement 2013 page.

Correction: a previous version of the article misspelled the commencement speaker’s name as David Boise. In fact, his name is David Boies.


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