A Step into the Unknown Commencement at Tufts University


Commencement, ca. 1970
Commencement address, 1970
Student particpants at Commencement, 1970

The Commencement ceremony of 1970 was unique in the history of Tufts Commencement. Members of the Class of 1970 deliberated that spring about what form their graduation ceremony should take, with students making the case for a “non-traditional” ceremony. Seniors and Arts and Sciences graduates voted on April 21, 1970 to reject a traditional event and its pomp and trappings, instead planning a short event opening and interspersed with popular and personal music selections, a single outside speaker, a single University Administrator to confer degrees, and a “memorial for those killed or who will be killed in Vietnam and a memorial to those deceased members of the Class of 1970.”

"Graduation format set."

In the late 1970s it was established that graduate school students follow the practice of moving to other sites following the initial part of the ceremony. The 1977 Commencement program notes for the first time that "After the Conferring of Degrees in Course there will be a brief interlude in the ceremony during which the students, and their guests, of the Medical School and The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy will move to other sites for the second portion of their commencement exercises. Participants in the Arts & Sciences ceremony will please remain seated."

Graduation, Ballou Hall
Dr. Balmuth, graduation