Students in regalia pose for a photo

Credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

Commencement 2021

Hats off to the grads!

Roughly 1,200 Johns Hopkins undergraduates claimed their degrees during the universitywide Commencement ceremony Thursday. The in-person ceremony took place on Homewood Field and was attended by members of the undergraduate class and their guests, as well as Commencement officials. Graduate degree candidates participated online and in divisional ceremonies hosted by the university's schools this week.

The Commencement speaker was Michael R. Bloomberg, an entrepreneur, philanthropist, three-term mayor of New York City, and 1964 Johns Hopkins University graduate. In 2018, Bloomberg made an historic $1.8 billion gift entirely for financial aid, allowing the university to permanently offer need-blind admissions and eliminate the need for student loans. Approximately 60% of the Class of 2021 received financial aid supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

In his speech addressing the graduates, Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels discussed what economists and political scientists call critical junctures—"moments in the history of a society or an institution or a life that are so disruptive and so wrenching that they upend everything," he said. For many of the graduates, the coronavirus pandemic, political polarization, and the movement for social justice after the death of George Floyd represented critical junctures.

And yet, Daniels said, as the poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen once sang, the cracks are "how the light gets in."

"Last year, almost overnight, everything seemed to crack at once, and in turn forced us to see more of that which had been hidden in plain sight," Daniels said. "And as these painful cracks were laid bare, we heard too the calls for real, ambitious reform; we witnessed the acts of solidarity and compassion; we felt the possibility of enduring change. … Class of 2021, we cannot wait to see how you will transform the flickers of light before us into a luminous beam of hope."

Other speakers at the ceremony included chair of the Board of Trustees, Lou Forster, and senior class president William Cho.