Commencement is a time of celebration, commemoration, and recognition of our graduates’ accomplishments. We strive to ensure each student has an exceptional experience. We are honored to be a part of this special day for our students and their families. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.
UO Tradition (History)
The first University Commencement ceremony occurred on June 14, 1878, in the top floor atrium of the former Deady Hall (now referred to as University Hall). The ceremony was attended by around six hundred people and consisted of student orations followed by an address by the president of the Board of Regents.
By the second decade of the University of Oregon’s existence, commencement had grown to become one of the two most lavish annual celebrations in Lane County. A full week was dedicated to the occasion, which included speeches, banquets, services, and other events to wrap up the academic year.
For the first 19 years each class planted a tree on campus as a mark of their legacy. However, the class of 1897 decided instead to install a plaque on one of the oak trees already growing on campus. After this initial deviation from tradition, each class has been more flexible in the senior gift presented to the university.
Despite growth and adjustment, the finality that commencement brings to graduating students will never change. Laura Miller, an 1897 alumna, described it best in her 1923 essay for Old Oregon:
“Commencement was over and we were free to go into those ‘paths of life’ people had been telling us about for four years. We had a sinking, finished feeling. And we didn’t particularly care about going. For commencement wasn’t really commencement. It wasn’t in 1897, it isn’t in 1923. It never will be in any grad’s heart. It’s simply the end of the known world, a world of warm friendships, work and play, happily supervised, and ever after gratefully remembered.”
Read more about our commencement history.