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May 04, 2011

Commencement Timeline

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CWRU Commencement, 2000

How many commencements has Case Western Reserve University had? It seemed like a pretty straightforward counting effort when the question was received at the Archives. We’re accustomed to CWRU’s complexity, but the variations in commencement ceremonies surprised even us. Do you count commencement exercises at which no degrees were conferred? When commencement exercises are divided over three consecutive days, do you count one commencement or three? What about the year that degrees were conferred as part of a building dedication, but no commencement ceremony was held? When commencement exercises were held after each semester, do you count all three?

Here’s the short answer to “How many?” Adding the formal commencement exercises at which degrees were conferred by Western Reserve College, Western Reserve University, Case School of Applied Science/Case Institute of Technology , and CWRU, from 1830 through 2010, but excluding separate diploma ceremonies also held by individual schools, there have been between 366 and 450 commencements.

Here are some of the variations:

In 1828 and 1829, even though no degrees were conferred, Western Reserve College held a public commencement ceremony celebrating the year’s successes.

On August 25, 1830, four years after its founding, Western Reserve College held commencement exercises for its first graduating class of four students.

From 1844 through 1894 the School of Medicine held separate commencement ceremonies in March. The rest of Western Reserve University’s schools celebrated commencement in the summer.

In 1862 Western Reserve College postponed its scheduled July 10 commencement ceremony till October 15, due to the absence of most students fighting in the Civil War.

In 1882 Western Reserve College held no formal commencement exercises, instead conferring degrees after the October 26 dedication of the new Adelbert College buildings in Cleveland.

On June 15, 1885, Case School of Applied Science held its first commencement for 5 graduates at the Case Hall Auditorium in downtown Cleveland. Until 1942, Case held its Commencement exercises once each year.

From 1891 through 1931 Western Reserve University’s spring commencement exercises were spread over two to five days.

The ten years from 1932 through 1941 were the only times after 1844 that all of Western Reserve University’s schools shared a single June commencement day.

From 1942 through 1967 Western Reserve University held commencement exercises three times each year - after each semester. CWRU held its last summer semester and fall semester commencement ceremonies in 1970.

On September 8, 1967 the first commencement convocation of the newly federated Case Western Reserve University was held.

On May 22, 1985 CWRU held its first outdoor, University-wide commencement ceremony. Beginning in 1985, with a few exceptions, CWRU held a single University-wide commencement convocation followed by separate diploma ceremonies for each school.

Posted by jmt3 at May 4, 2011 01:53 PM

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