Elena Kagan Graduates Summa Cum Laude From Princeton University
A native of New York City, Kagan earned an A.B. with highest honors in history in 1981.
She received the 1981 Daniel M. Sachs Class of 1960 Graduating Scholarship and attended Worcester College at the University of Oxford, where she received an M. Phil. in 1983. She went on to attend Harvard Law School, where she was supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review, and graduated magna cum laude in 1986. Since 2009 Kagan has served as the solicitor general of the United States.
History Professor Sean Wilentz, who advised Kagan on her senior thesis at Princeton, said that
although his work with her came early in his own career at Princeton, "she remains one of the most outstanding students" he has ever taught.
After graduating high school, Kagan attended Princeton University. At Princeton, she wrote a senior thesis under historian Sean Wilentz titled "To the Final Conflict: Socialism in New York City, 1900-1933", studying the socialist movement in New York City in the early 20th century. In it she wrote, "Through its own internal feuding, then, the SP exhausted itself forever....The story is a sad but also a chastening one for those who, more than half a century after socialism's decline, still wish to change America." Professor Wilentz insists that she did not mean to defend socialism, noting that, "She was interested in it. To study something is not to endorse it." Wilentz called Kagan "one of the foremost legal minds in the country, she is still the witty, engaging, down-to-earth person I proudly remember from her undergraduate days." Kagan earned an A.B. in history from the school, graduating summa cum laude, in 1981.
As an undergraduate, Kagan also served as editorial chair of the Daily Princetonian. Along with eight other students (including Eliot Spitzer, student body president at Princeton), Kagan penned the Declaration of the Campaign for a Democratic University, which called for "a fundamental restructuring of university governance" and condemned Princeton's administration for making decisions "behind closed doors".