Dartmouth College awarded 1,782 degrees at its annual Commencement exercises on June 12, 2012. On a chilly day under threatening skies, an audience of more than 12,000 family and friends watched as nine honorary degrees were also conferred, including doctor of laws to former President George H.W. Bush, on his 87th birthday. The honor included an impromptu singing of “Happy Birthday” to President Bush from the audience.
- Arts and sciences, undergraduate: 1,076 Bachelor of Arts
- Arts and sciences, graduate: 197 total; 57 Master of Science, 17 Master of Arts, 41 Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, 82 Doctor of Philosophy
- Dartmouth Medical School: 67 Doctor of Medicine, 49 Master of Public Health
- Thayer School of Engineering: 90 Bachelor of Engineering, 49 Master of Engineering Management
- Tuck School of Business: 254 Master of Business Administration
- Total degrees awarded: 1,782
“You command our gratitude not only for your accomplishments, but also for your example: love of country, devotion to family, integrity, and selflessness. In the magnificent life of the 41st President of the United States of America, Dartmouth will forever join all Americans in finding a source of inspiration and courage,” Dartmouth President Jim Yong Kim told President Bush.
Also receiving honorary degrees were: Dartmouth alumnus, philanthropist, and retired executive Russell A. “Ron” Boss ’61; New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast; Native American leader and activist Elouise Cobell; actress Ruby Dee; alumnus and brain scientist Michael S. Gazzaniga ’61; physician and researcher Howard Hiatt; Joel Klein, former chancellor of the New York City public school system; and late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien, who delivered the Commencement address.
O’Brien’s speech was a mix of humor—“it is great to be here in New Hampshire, where I am getting an honorary degree and all the legal fireworks I can fit in the trunk of my car”—and wisdom. He drew advice for the graduates from the experience of losing his role as host of The Tonight Show in January 2010. He subsequently returned to television with a new show, Conan on the TBS network in April of this year.