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Aug. 23, 2017
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Eisgruber to Princeton graduates: Pursue ideals that are 'beautiful and profound'

Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber gives remarks during Commencement exercises Tuesday, June 2. – Photo: Princeton University, Office of Communications, Denise Applewhite (2015)

Umbrellas, ponchos and smiles were in abundance as Princeton University celebrated its 268th Commencement on a rainy Tuesday morning on June 2nd.

Welcoming some 10,000 students and guests to the "wet and slightly soggy" front lawn of Nassau Hall, Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber announced that due to the ongoing rain, the order of the program would change.

After a round of thanks to families and friends and to all who had contributed to the success of the many year-end celebrations, Eisgruber conferred bachelor's and advanced degrees on the graduating students.

In his Commencement address, which Eisgruber abridged and planned to distribute in its entirety to all the graduates after the ceremony and which is available online, he urged the newly minted graduates to engage with a world that "requires your commitment to dream audaciously."

"America has since its birth been a land of diversity and a land of audacious dreamers," said Eisgruber. "It has benefited again and again from men and women who shared, against all odds, the dream that we might transcend our differences and yet be one people. It has benefited, too, from individuals who dared to believe that scholarship and education could generate the progress, the discoveries and the leaders who will help to solve our most difficult problems in our darkest hours."

As the graduates prepared to leave campus through FitzRandolph Gate as Princeton alumni, Eisgruber urged them to "pursue ideals that are beautiful and profound."

Recognizing that the graduates would need to take care of practical matters such as finding apartments and paying rent, he pointed to the examples of Alan Turing and Frederick Douglass. They "remind us that the beautiful and profound are sometimes more powerful and more beneficial than all the things that the conventional world praises in the name of pragmatic utility."

In closing, Eisgruber said: "And so it is with an eye toward the beautiful and the profound that we gather here today, bursting with joy amidst the turmoil of the outside world and the cold rain, to congratulate you on your achievements and wish you well as you begin your journeys beyond this campus.

"We feel great confidence in your ability to meet the challenges that lie ahead, for on this special and auspicious day, you our graduate students and our undergraduate seniors are now, and shall be forever into the future, Princeton University's Great Class of 2015.

"Congratulations and best wishes!"

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