New Flickr set celebrating the history of commencement at OSU

3555284058_abd1a5cf52.jpgIt’s a magical time of year… The flowers are blooming, families are beaming, graduates are throwing their caps — and it’s time for a new Flickr set!

The first commencement took place at OSU in 1870, though the class was a bit smaller than you would expect today. Robert Veatch gave the valedictory address, “Utility of Science,” at the June 30 commencement ceremony and Alice Biddle, who was only 16 years of age when she received her degree, read a paper called “Progress of Mind.”

The location has changed, from the College Chapel in the Administration Building (now Benton Hall) to the College Armory (now the Gymnastics Training Center) to the Men’s Gymnasium (Langton Hall) — before finally settling in Gill Coliseum for the first time in 1950. Ceremonies were held in Gill until 2001, when the first outdoor commencement ceremony in Reser Stadium on June 17.

Fun Facts:

  • 1950: Families were requested not to bring babies or small children to baccalaureate services or commencement exercises. Childcare was provided in the Orchard Street Nursery School for a charge of 50 cents per day.
  • 1970: Controversy erupted in 1970, when the university implemented a Faculty Senate requirement for seniors to take finals. This meant that commencement was moved back to the Sunday after finals week and that blank diplomas were given during the ceremony. A boycott of commencement was called by the student body. Ultimately the administration rescinded the policy.
  • Eremurus flowers, grown especially for OSU commencement by the A.J. Stone Family of Amity, Oregon, decorated the Coliseum (and previously the Men’s Gymnasium) from 1948 through 1991. The flowers are commonly called Desert Candle or Fox-tail Lily.

To learn more, visit the History of Commencement page.

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