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The Baccalaureate service seems to have originated in a 1432 Oxford University statute, which required each bachelor to deliver a sermon in Latin as part of his academic exercise. Because the earliest universities in this country were founded primarily to educate ministers, the British practice of a Baccalaureate Service was continued.

At Dartmouth, it was an integral part of Senior Week until Commencement itself was moved from Wednesday, when it had historically occurred, to Sunday, at which time it absorbed the Baccalaureate. This change occurred in 1939 to conform to weekend customs of the outside world.

Today, the Baccalaureate service is an multi-faith occasion of thanksgiving and celebration for the completion of the undergraduate and graduate careers. The service is intended to incorporate a variety of traditions, languages, and perspectives.

Campus ministers and advisors representing many of the religious traditions and student religious organizations at Dartmouth join the selected speakers on the dais. Also on the dais are representatives from the Dean of the Faculty and the Dean of the College offices.

2014 Baccalaureate

June 7, 2014
3:00 PM
Rollins Chapel

Baccalaureate Presenters: Rev. Elizabeth and Noel Paul Stookey

Noel Paul and Betty Stookey
photo credit: Sally Farr

Elizabeth and Noel Paul Stookey have been working together for over 50 years, as husband and wife, as parents, as business partners and activists, and as two people constantly questioning how the spiritual informs the day-to-day realities of life - in both a small personal way and a larger global way.

Noel is a singer-songwriter and the "Paul" of Peter, Paul and Mary. He has been writing songs that reflect on the political, cultural, sociopolitical, and spiritual dynamics of our collected stories for decades. Betty is an ordained United Church of Christ minister who has ministered and counseled many, including, as chaplain of a school with over a thousand students, young men and women of many faiths ranging from Buddhist and Christian to Muslim and Jewish.

Betty's work as minister/chaplain and Noel's talent as a singer-songwriter come together now in a mutual multi-faith vision. Believing that no one religion can 'own' God, that God has many names, and that each person's path is a valid one, Betty and Noel bring to their workshops, seminars, residencies, and worship services the belief that religious faith, which is based on love, assumes unity and that when we expand our spiritual comfort zones we are opening a path to understanding and peace.

The Stookeys craft presentations and workshops for churches, colleges, retreats, or any gathering that is receptive to hearing about the expansive nature of the Divine. Most notable is their One Light, Many Candles program that can be found at their website: They believe in a world where faith traditions might stand side by side, not blending or mixing their belief systems, but rather holding strong to them while reaching out a hand of respect and understanding to those of other traditions. The foundation of their belief and their programs germinates from the fact that they cannot feel comfortable accepting that their truth would exclude or minimize others.

A video of the entire Baccalaureate service is now available via the Dartmouth College YouTube Channel.


A list of past Baccalaureate speakers is available beginning in 2004.

Last Updated: 11/20/14