Harvard Alumni Association

Afternoon Program

Afternoon Program

The Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) is gearing up for the 151st Annual Meeting! Traditionally held in Tercentenary Theatre following Commencement, this event honors alumni accomplishments and celebrates our alumni community.


This year, this historic event will take place remotely on Friday, June 4. It will kick off with special pre-program hosted by the 25th Reunion Chief Marshal, Anurima Bhargava AB ’96 at 11:45 a.m. EDT, followed by the main program from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. EDT, hosted by HAA President John J. West Jr. MBA ’95.


The program will include remarks by Harvard University President Lawrence S. Bacow and featured speaker Kevin Young AB '92, the Andrew W. Mellon director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. The program will also include recognition of 25th Reunion Chief Marshal and incoming HAA President; and a celebration of the 2020 and 2021 Harvard Medalists.


Visit the Annual Meeting webpage for additional details!



Last updated: April 19, 2021 



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During its first 10 years, the HAA participated in Commencement (in those years, it was a two-day celebration with Commencement Exercises on Wednesday) and shared the Thursday meeting with the Phi Beta Kappa Society and the Boylston Prize orations. It was not until 1867 that the HAA began to share Commencement Day with the new graduates. Then, in 1869, the alumni were charged with management of the Commencement Afternoon Exercises, over which the president of the HAA has presided ever since. (Renny Little, Reflections on Our Past, 1840–2005)

Happy Observance of Commencement Committee

Happy Committee

The Happy Observance of the Commencement Committee is known affectionately as the “Happy Committee.” This group of committed alumni volunteers was first charged with oversight of the Afternoon Program in 1869. They are recognized by their unmistakable regalia: top hats and tails for men, all black outfits adorned with crimson rosettes for women; and the noteworthy batons that came into use in the 1980s. Today, a group of more than 80 committee members — assisted by hundreds of alumni marshals and aids — escort students, family members, guests, dignitaries, and alumni in and out of Tercentenary Theatre; assist with the alumni spreads; and marshal the annual alumni procession that commences the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association. For more insight into the Happy Committee, read the recent story "Make Someone Happy."

Harvard Medals

Drew Faust with Harvard Medalist

First awarded in 1981, the Harvard Medal recognizes extraordinary service to the University. The service can range across University life, from teaching, leadership, and innovation to fundraising, administration, and volunteerism.

Past recipients of the Harvard Medal (PDF)