Rubén Blades Bellido de Luna
Photo: Tori Repp / Fotobuddy

Princeton recognized seven individuals, including three alumni, with honorary degrees at Commencement.

Lamar Alexander, a former secretary of education, U.S. senator, and governor of Tennessee, was honored for “his legacy of substantive and bipartisan policy initiatives.”

Rubén Blades Bellido de Luna, a Grammy-winning composer and singer, “also uses his voice and political acumen to advocate for justice,” according to his degree citation.

Paula A. Johnson, a physician, scientist, and the first Black president of Wellesley College, was hailed as “a true champion for women’s higher education.” 

Randall Kennedy ’77, a law professor at Harvard and emeritus trustee of Princeton, was recognized for “bringing depth and nuance” to conversations on race and other important topics.

Mark A. Milley ’80, retired U.S. Army general and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been described by President Joe Biden as “a patriot uncompromising in his duty.”

Joyce Carol Oates, a versatile, prolific, and celebrated author, “is also and always a teacher, to the enduring gratitude of generations of Princeton students,” her citation said. 

Terrence J. Sejnowski *78, a neurobiologist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, was praised for his “inventive use of physics, mathematics, and statistics to study the brain.”

The Class of 2024 inducted five honorary classmates during its Class Day program: Mia González Guerrero, a Campus Dining barista; Neena Simpson, orientation program coordinator in the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students; Claire Gmachl, a professor of electrical engineering and the head of Whitman College; James Vreeland, a professor of politics and international affairs; and actor Sam Waterston, the Class Day speaker.