Light & Verity

Magic words

"These degrees" becomes a commencement touchstone.



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After more than 300 years, new commencement traditions can still evolve at Yale. At Class Day in recent years, the Yale College dean has instructed the graduating seniors on when to cheer the awarding of their diplomas the next day, explaining that their cue to go wild is when the dean finishes asking the president to confer their degrees with the words “these degrees.” The words have taken on totemic importance: last year and this year, graduates chanted “THESE DEGREES” en masse each of the 14 times one of Yale’s deans recited those words. (They sat out the Latin version for the PhDs.) Just after commencement, new graduate Giovanna Truong ’23 launched an online shop on to sell “These Degrees 2023” shirts, as seen here on a model.

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