A Step into the Unknown Commencement at Tufts University

1900- 1909

Tufts student speeches in the early years of the twentieth century often touched on scientific and engineering innovations of the day. In 1901 David Livingston Rundlett, Cand. M.D., spoke of an important recent invention in his presentation "The X-ray in Diagnosis and Treatment." Two other student speeches, "The Sanatorium in the Treatment of Tuberculosis" presented by George William Derrick, Cand. M.D., in 1903 and "Tuberculosis, Its Nature and Prevention" presented by Horace Kimball Richardson, Cand. M.D. in 1905, address contemporary concerns with the disease which remained a leading cause of death at the time.

A new development in the Tufts commencement occurred in 1906 the wearing by faculty of traditional academic regalia began, establishing a custom which has continued into the present.

Academic Regalia

Traditional academic regalia has been worn by the Tufts faculty since the Commencement of 1906. The gown for the Bachelor’s degree has pointed sleeves and is designed to be worn closed. The Master’s gown has elbow-length, pointed sleeves; the Doctor’s gown has bell-shaped sleeves; both may be worn open or closed. The Doctor’s gown is faced and the sleeves are trimmed with velvet. By its color and its arrangement, the hood worn with the gown indicates the wearer’s highest advanced degree, the field in which it was awarded, and the school from which it came. The lining of the hood carries the school’s colors, brown and blue in Tufts’ case. The velvet edging on the hood, wider for the Doctor’s degree than for the Master’s degree, signifies by its color the field in which the degree was designated. Master of Science and Doctor of Science hoods are trimmed in yellow, Engineers in orange, Medicine in green, Dental Medicine in lilac, and Doctor of Philosophy in blue. The mortarboard or Oxford type cap is the one usually worn, but of late, the soft cap which resembles an overlarge beret has come into fashion, largely because of its comfort. Tassels, other than the universally accepted black, may indicate by the various colors the field of learning in which the degree is earned, while the gold tassel generally signifies a doctoral degree. Many foreign universities show great diversity following traditions which extend back for centuries.

– Tufts Commencement Program, initially included in 1976 and reprinted in subsequent programs.