Class of 2024 celebrated as extraordinary overcomers at Vanderbilt’s Commencement


Vanderbilt University Chancellor Daniel Diermeier called the Class of 2024 his “hero class” during the Commencement address on May 10.

Chancellor Daniel Diermeier speaks at the 2024 Vanderbilt Commencement. (Vanderbilt University)

“There is a concept of heroism that comes to us from antiquity, in which glory is earned through the suffering of hardships and the overcoming of challenges. A hero’s journey, where bitter struggle leads not only to new heights, but to the transformation of self,” Diermeier said. “Class of 2024, this could be your motto. For it aptly describes your journey over the past four years.”

The class endured both a stunted high school exit and first-year college experience because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Diermeier commended the students for taking the emotional, physical and social challenges in stride.

“This is the part of the story where you could have given up, but you did not. You could have surrendered to hopelessness and self-pity, but you did not. Instead, you chose grit and resilience and possibility,” he said.

The chancellor recalled a favorite story of Vanderbilt’s 150th graduating class when hundreds of sophomores, who had never experienced the classic “Commons Move-In” because of pandemic restrictions, volunteered to bring that beloved tradition alive for the Class of 2025.

“You were there just the same, warmly and enthusiastically welcoming the new incoming class,” he said. “…you chose instead to reach outward, with generosity and compassion and grace.”

Diermeier stressed that the overcoming of these challenges will ultimately help them in life. “Your resilience and spirit are gifts the world urgently needs.”

The chancellor sent the students off with an optimistic wish.

“Class of 2024, we send you into the world now to write the next chapters of your stories. Your education at Vanderbilt is finished, but there is so much more to be done … and an infinite universe of stars for you to claim,” he said. “I wish for you far more stars than struggle.”


Emeriti professors acknowledged during Commencement 2024.
Vanderbilt honored 27 retiring faculty members and one outgoing dean  during Commencement exercises at Geodis Park on May 10, 2024. (Vanderbilt University)

Before the chancellor’s address, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs C. Cybele Raver recognized this year’s Founder’s Medalist recipients from each of the university’s 10 schools and colleges. Founder’s Medal recipients were also recognized at Graduates Day.

Raver also recognized retiring faculty members who were granted emerita or emeritus status.


Because of construction on the Vanderbilt campus, the main undergraduate ceremony was at GEODIS Park. Graduate and professional ceremonies took place across campus. The park, home to Nashville’s professional soccer team, made for unique opportunities for graduates and their families to celebrate.


  • 4,323 undergraduates and graduate and professional students from 10 schools and colleges received diplomas
  • 15,000 hand fans were distributed to keep guests cool
  • 15,000 strawberries from Lester Farms were ordered for the Commencement Celebration
  • 2,800 bottles of wine and champagne were prepared
  • There was enough chocolate in the chocolate fountains to feed 4,000 guests
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