MIT awards 2,280 degrees to 2,035 students at 131st Commencement


CAMBRIDGE, MA --MIT awarded degrees to 2,035 seniors and graduate students at its 131st commencement at Killian Court today as 8,000 friends, relatives and guests looked on with pride.

Because some students receive more than one degree, the total number of degrees--2,280--exceeds the number of students receiving them. Altogether, 1,023 bachelor of science degrees and 1,257 advanced degrees were awarded. The advanced degrees include 247 doctorates, 999 master's degrees and 11 engineer degrees, a professional degree somewhat beyond a master's degree.

The School of Engineering awarded 1,088 degrees, the most among the six schools. The Sloan School of Management awarded 508; the School of Science, 425; the School of Architecture and Planning, 130; the School of Humanities and Social Science, 118, and the Whitaker College of Health Sciences and Technology, 11.

The degree recipients included 618 women and 525 members of American minority groups.

In addressing the graduates, MIT President Charles M. Vest noted that they would work in a world "driven by... science and technology, internationalization and changing demography." He urged them to maintain a sense of social responsibility while pursuing their careers.

Building on these themes, President Vest said in delivering his charge to the new graduates:

"Take your education, your talent and your energy and build us a nation and a world community that consider knowledge a gift to be shared...a healthy planet a place to be cherished...and human dignity and opportunity fundamental conditions to be enjoyed by all������������������people.

"Men and women of MIT, I wish you Godspeed and great good fortune."

The principal speaker, United Nations Secretary-General������������������Kofi A. Annan, noted the similar goals and tactics used in diplomacy and scientific research and called upon the graduates to help maintain continued US support of the UN. Mr. Annan, who earned an MIT master's degree in management in 1972, also reminisced about his days in Cambridge.

"At the outset," he said,������������������"there was intense competition among my cohorts. Each was equally determined to shine and to demonstrate his leadership qualities. I say 'his' because there were no women among us; I am certainly glad that has changed.

"Walking along the Charles River one day in the middle of my first term, I reflected on my predicament. How could I possibly survive let alone thrive in this group of over-achievers? And the answer came to me most emphatically: Not by playing according to their rules. 'Follow your own inner compass,' I said to myself. 'Listen to your own drummer.' To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there. My anxieties slowly dissolved.

"What I took away from MIT, as a result, was not only the analytical tools but also the intellectual confidence to help me locate my bearings in new situations, to view any challenge as a potential������������������opportunity for renewal and growth, to be comfortable in seeking the help of colleagues, but not fearing, in the end, to do things my way."

Following the Secretary-General's speech, Constantine Morfopoulos, president of the Graduate Student Council, delivered a salute to MIT from the graduate student body. Pardis Sabeti, president of the Class of 1997, presented the senior class gift to President Vest.

The President presented diplomas to the recipients of bachelor of science degrees and those receiving both bachelor of science and master of science degrees. Provost Joel Moses gave out advanced degrees. The two lines of students approached the stage simultaneously to receive their diplomas as their names were announced by Associate Provost Phillip Clay, Dean of Undergraduate Education Rosalind Williams and the deans of the five schools.

After the degrees were presented, Grand Marshal DuWayne J. Peterson, 1996-97 president of the MIT Association of Alumni and Alumnae, offered congratulations to the new graduates from the reunion classes of 1947 and 1972 and welcomed them into "the most select company of men and women who are the MIT alumni and alumnae."

Dr.������������������Paul E. Gray, outgoing head of the corporation, presided at his final commencement. Dr. Gray will continue to teach at MIT.

The invocation was given by Rev. Constance Parvey, MIT's Lutheran chaplain.

Prior to the ceremony, The MIT Brass Ensemble and the Boston Brass Ensemble provided musical preludes. The National Anthem was sung by Philip Lima,������������������assistant benefits manager of retirement programs for the Personnel Office.

Following the commencement program, President Vest and Mrs. Vest hosted a reception for graduates and their guests at several locations in or near McDermott Court.

Later in the day, 15 graduating cadets and midshipmen in MIT's Army, Air Force and Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) units took part in commissioning ceremonies under the masts of the historic frigate USS Constitution at the Charlestown Navy Yard Historical Park.

Those receiving doctoral degrees were hooded in a special ceremony yesterday (Thursday).


Topics: Awards, honors and fellowships, Commencement

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