Andrew Hamilton, the new president of New York University, stepped up to the plate at Yankee Stadium on Wed., May 18, to preside over the university’s 184th commencement ceremony.
Receiving honorary degrees were French microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier; Congressmember John Lewis, a hero of the civil rights movement; Margaret Hilary Marshall, former chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court and the first woman to hold that position; comedian Billy Crystal, an N.Y.U. alumnus; and Darren Charles Walker, president of the Ford Foundation.
In his address to the Class of 2016, Walker urged them to ask how they can help others share the education that they enjoyed.
“How can we extend the ladder of opportunity, so that more people can sit in these…bleachers in the years ahead and experience what you all have experienced?” he said.
Speaking in a clipped English accent, N.Y.U President Hamilton noted that the graduates have had a lot of help from their families in getting to where they are today. He urged them to “turn around and give them thanks,” and, with a roar, the grads heartily obliged.
Having taken over the university’s leadership from John Sexton in January, Hamilton, at least so far, has kept a pretty low profile in the wider Village community. Which is perhaps not so surprising, given the impassioned opposition to the N.Y.U. 2031 South Village expansion mega-project.
While Sexton was known for wearing his trademark Yankees baseball cap at commencement, Hamilton — a chemist who could very well be a cricket fan — sported a traditional mortarboard.