Dressed in violet, the almost 8,000 members of the class of 2015 took over Yankee Stadium for the 183rd All-University Commencement ceremony.
This year’s ceremony also marks the last graduation to be officiated by NYU President John Sexton and Trustee Chair Martin Lipton.
During the ceremony, the university awarded honorary doctorates to pianist Lang Lang, mathematician Peter Lax, humanitarian Graça Simbine Machel and biochemist Jan Tomas Vilcek.
Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Ifill, an NYU School of Law graduate, delivered the commencement address on behalf of the honorary degree recipients.
In her address, Ifill spoke about the excitement of graduation and the importance of activism and citizenship.
“You have felt the crisis that is enveloping us, the crisis of confidence in the role of law, and in our justice system, and you are wondering what your role must be, and you are right to do so,” Ifill said. “It is the obligation of citizenship to engage the issues of our day, to work for peace, to demand justice, but also to fight for beauty and art and stability and privacy and dignity for everyone.”
Ifill said she learned the importance of having a support system after being in the recent Amtrak crash in Philadelphia, and encouraged graduates to build strong relationships with loved ones.
Following Sexton’s address to the class, Jules O’Connor, chair of the Student Senators Council, presented him a gift on behalf of the class of 2015. O’Connor gave Sexton an NYU Class of 2015 baseball jacket.
Student speaker Brent Austin Dibble, graduating senior from the Stern School of Business and the School of Medicine also addressed the graduates, reminding them to create opportunities for themselves as they start their lives outside of NYU.
The ceremony closed with the passing of the torch from professor Rae Zimmerman to the youngest member of the graduating class, Deva Snyder, 18, and a performance by the cast of the NYU Reality Show.