The 60-year-old Yale Law School grad received an honorary degree during Monday’s commencement.
Graduates erupted in cheers as Clinton was introduced. In keeping with Yale tradition, the names of honorary degree recipients are a closely held secret, although word began trickling out Sunday of Clinton's participation.
University President Richard Levin made a note of Clinton during his Baccalaureate Address and said she is a Yale grad who is contributing to “greater international cooperation and understanding,” the Yale Daily News reports. He encouraged the latest class to follow her example.
Clinton was last at Yale in 2008, the day before the Connecticut presidential primary.
She spoke for about five minutes Monday during the separate Law School commencement and reminisced about her days at Yale, saying the law school was an "encampment for protests and frivolity" when she arrived in the fall of 1969.
She expressed hope that every graduate would "use every creative gene you have" in order to work "on behalf of the public good."
Clinton drew laughs from the crowd when she jokingly apologized for taking Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh "away from the law school and putting him to work in Washington." Koh was nominated by President Barack Obama to be legal adviser to the State Department, and remains a possible nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a nod to the rough job market, Clinton also urged the new graduates to apply for work in the Obama administration and the State Department.
Clinton has lots of ties to Yale. She’s a 1973 law school grad, served as a child advocate at the Yale Child Study Center and met her future husband, Bill Clinton, at Yale in 1970, 22 years before he was elected the nation's 42nd president.
She and gave the Class Day speech, the major address to Yale seniors over commencement weekend, in 1991.
Sculptor Richard Serra and writer John McPhee are among the others to receive honorary degrees from the university Monday.
This year's Class Day address was delivered Sunday by author Christopher Buckley, a 1975 Yale graduate.
Check out the long list of honorary degree recipients on Yale's Web site.