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Did you know? Commencement by the numbers

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 06/12/09 • Media Contact: Sarah Maxell Crosby ’04 (603) 646-3661

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4: Number of degrees conferred at the first Dartmouth Commencement in 1771.

1,700: Approximate number of degrees to be conferred this year at Commencement.

240: Number of years since Dartmouth’s charter was signed.

235: Number of Commencements prior to this one. No Commencement ceremonies were held in 1943, 1944, or 1945, though degrees were still awarded.

1953: Year that Commencement was first held on Baker Lawn. President Eisenhower's visit necessitated a larger space than the Bema, which had been used since 1932. In 1996, Commencement was moved across the street to its current location on the

1995: The only year that Commencement has ever been held at Memorial Field; the change was made to accommodate large crowds who came to see President Clinton, an honorary degree recipient and speaker.

1773: Year honorary degrees were first conferred.

48: Number of speeches given at Commencement in 1845, the year President Nathan Lord imposed his equality rule, abolishing all competitions, ranks, and honors and requiring all graduates to give a 10-minute speech on an assigned topic. The process took all day, with a one-hour intermission at noon.

250: Number of hours it would take for all graduates to speak if Lord’s requirement were enacted today.

1827: Year the College’s official language changed from Latin to English; prior to this point, all announcements were made in Latin.

66: Total weight, in ounces, of the silver Wentworth Bowl, given by Governor Wentworth on the occasion of the first Commencement in 1771. The bowl is displayed every year at Commencement and has sometimes been used by the Presidents and First Ladies to serve punch to honored guests.

1,000: Number of alumni from the classes of 1804 to 1868 who came to Commencement in the centennial year, 1869.

30: Number of gambling booths on the Green during Commencement in 1833. For most of the 19th century, Commencement offered an excuse for members of surrounding communities to celebrate. A festival-like atmosphere took over as vendors offering games, food, trinkets, and auctions set up on and along all sides of the Green.

$10,000: Amount given by the Class of 1879 on the occasion of their 50th reunion in 1929 to provide music for all future Commencement ceremonies. The ‘79s had a very specific vision for their gift: it must be used for provide trumpet players, who are required to play on the top of Baker Tower.

2: The number of dates on the diplomas given out in 1942. Commencement was originally scheduled for June 4, but because of World War II, it was moved up to May 10. The sheepskins had already been prepared before the change, so the correct date was simply added.

1979: Year that the first female valedictorian, Elizabeth Ann Proctor, graduated.

1: Number of tablecloths owned by College in 1773. Eleazar Wheelock noted the recent acquisition (“generously given by a lady in Connecticut”) in response to complaints from some members of Governor Wentworth’s entourage about the rustic accommodations at the first Commencement two years earlier. The 1771 ceremony, held outside, featured an ox roast and a barrel of rum, provided by the Governor; no table linens were used.

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