Commencement Confetti

Notes and statistics, vital and otherwise

John P. "Jack" Reardon

Classy Class Honorand

John P. “Jack” Reardon, executive director of the Harvard Alumni Association since 1990 (and earlier, in a Harvard career that began in 1965, director of undergraduate admissions and director of athletics), is celebrating his fiftieth reunion. Classmates thought he deserved something special for his efforts on behalf of all Harvard alumni. The class committee decided to commission a formal portrait. When they sprang the surprise on Reardon at a formal class gathering on Monday afternoon, they of course had no painting to give him, but they did present him, to great applause, with its dedicatory plaque. 


Home Cooking

More than any Commencement speaker in recent memory, the Honorable David H. Souter ’61, LL.B. ’66, has, and appears to cherish, deep ties to his alma mater. Offering a toast at the honorands’ banquet Wednesday night in Annenberg Hall, he said, “I can’t be in this room without thinking of many other times I was here”--for freshman registration, general examinations, and even to donate blood. But, he said, “This one is the best.” During the conferral of Souter’s honorary degree on Thursday morning, Provost Steven E. Hyman noted, “He wrote his senior thesis on Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes--and graduated in 1961, 100 years after Holmes,” and that upon returning to the Law School following his Rhodes Scholarship, “He lived steps from here, as a freshman proctor in Straus Hall.” Souter in fact remains an adviser: he is a member of Lowell House’s Senior Common Room; and pre-law tutors there have in the past organized undergraduate trips to Washington, D.C., to meet with the justice. Souter’s faculty escorts for Commencement day were Bemis professor of law Noah Feldman and assistant professor of law Jeannie Suk (see “Real Fashion Police,” page 9), both of whom clerked for him. Finally, Souter had a private viewing of the Harvard Charter--signed by an ancestor.


Senior Singer

Professor of mathematics Noam D. Elkies sang in the Commencement Choir--the only faculty member among the student choristers. He reports that except for one year when he had to be out of town, he has sung in the Choir every year since he arrived as a graduate student in 1985, including the year he received his doctorate, 1987. “Even at approximately 25 years,” Elkies says, “I’m not near the longevity record, which is surely held by Dr. Bernard (‘Bernie’) Kreger [’59, M.P.H. ’70].”


What Lies Beneath

Photograph by Jennifer Beaumont


Teammates to the last, the graduating members of the women’s crew peeled back their gowns to reveal that even on their Commencement morning, they were ready to rock ’n row. From left to right: Ariel Delgado, Alex Kuschner, Jennie Peterson, Eleanor Conover, Molly Tarrant, Amanda Deutsch, Christine Baugh, Michaela Pewarski, and Laura Huppert.


Photograph by Jim Harrison

Friendly tennis rivals Nathan and Bok

Photograph by Stu Rosner

Renée C, Fox

Extraordinary Escorts

The faculty members who accompany the honorands throughout Commencement are unheralded, but their connections to the guests of the day are often finely calibrated and of long standing (see Justice Souter’s, above). David G. Nathan was escorted by a Harvard president emeritus; noted Provost Steven E. Hyman, among his achievements, Nathan is “perhaps proudest of all to claim--at least by his account--a winning record in his lifetime series of tennis matches against his fearsome opponent and friend: Derek Bok.” And pioneering sociologist of medicine Renée C. Fox was escorted by her longtime University of Pennsylvania colleague, now Harvard’s Monrad professor of the social sciences, Charles Rosenberg, an historian of science whose most recent book concerns conceptions of health and illness (see “Postmodern Medicine,” March-April 2008, page 24). His presence on the Commencement platform made for something of a family affair: Rosenberg is President Drew Faust’s husband.


Fast Finish

Commencement wasn’t even the biggest stage in actress Ashley Judd’s week. After picking up her mid-career master in public administration degree from the Harvard Kennedy School during the Thursday exercises, she was on hand as her husband, Dario Franchitti, won the Indianapolis 500 (for the second time) on Sunday, May 30.


Scan This!

The Harvard Gazette, in a spruced-up but less-frequent format this year, included a QR bar code for smartphone-equipped Commencement-goers to scan. The digitally addicted were thus equipped to receive news updates throughout the day on their mobile devices of choice.


Is There a Lawyer in the House?

In the midst of the Law School Class Day ceremonies, a loud metallic boom was heard behind the audience of budding attorneys. Virtually everyone turned, craning their necks to see what had happened. A large tree limb (big enough to qualify as a “widowmaker”) had fallen from one of the majestic oaks shading Holmes Field onto the hood of a red SUV parked just behind the audience. Quipped one observer, “I hope that tree has a good lawyer.” Despite the brainpower present, there was no resolution to the age-old problem of a tree falling in a forest and no barrister hearing it.


Photograph by Stu Rosner


Harvard had a new company, with an especially suitable Latinate name, providing private security for the day’s events. Securitas AB, founded in Sweden in 1934, now has operations in 40 countries.


Peak Professors and Pupil

Among the prizes conferred for excellent teaching, one of the choicest results from nominations by students elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the College’s academic elite. This year’s winners were all senior faculty members: Lawrence Buell, Cabot professor of American literature; Benjamin Friedman, Maier professor of political economy; and Richard Tarrant, Pope professor of the Latin language and literature. Separately, the Radcliffe Institute awarded its Fay Prize (given annually to the College senior who produces the most outstanding imaginative work or original research) to Diana C. Wise ’10, a history and literature concentrator, for her thesis on eighteenth-century English courtier John, Lord Hervey.


By the Numbers

The University awarded 7,125 degrees and 89 certificates this year: 1,673 from the College, 864 from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (including 484 Ph.D.s), 907 from the Business School, 761 from the Law School, 703 from the Extension School (in its centennial year), and 685 from the School of Education, among the units with the largest enrollments.


Honoring a Comrade

Courtesy of John Monahan

Four police officers from Suffolk County, Long Island—Robert Cozine, James Dee, Brendan Gayer, and John Monahan—worked the night shift and then set off for Cambridge at 4 a.m. in full dress uniform. They came to stand in for their friend and fellow officer John Baldwin, who died on May 7, and cheer for his daughter, Erin Baldwin, who was about to receive a master’s in education. “I have to tell you that the staff and people of Harvard could not have been more gracious to us,” Monahan said. “It was an amazing experience and an honor to be there for our friend’s daughter. John Baldwin would have been so proud.” From left to right: Monahan, Dee, Baldwin, M.Ed. ’10, Cozine, and Gayer.


Harvard History, Revised

The chief marshal for the day, elected by his twenty-fifth-reunion classmates, was Kevin Jennings ’85, founder of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, and now assistant deputy secretary of education. At the chief marshal’s luncheon spread on Commencement day, Jennings said, “ Speaking for a moment as an historian like Drew Faust, I want to think about the people who...are not here today. The Native Americans on whose land we built our University. The women who for 300 years were not enrolled here. The Jews who were excluded with quotas…and of course gay men like myself who were purged from the University in the 1920s.But my toast ultimately is to the motto of Harvard, Veritas…because in the end…the truth will set you free.”

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