1862 : First Graduation Ceremony at Michigan State Agricultural College

November 12, 2018 all-day

The first graduation ceremony at Michigan State Agicultural College was pre-empted by the outbreak of the Civil War. As a result, the first true graduation ceremony took place on November 12, 1862.

All of the speakers at the first graduation were graduating students. According to the Michigan State University Archives, the college, which would go on to become MSU, had not yet gotten into the tradition of bringing in outside speakers.

Notes from the Board of Trustees minutes 1861, p.88 : A Communication was received from the Faculty reccommending that the Senior class receive their Degrees, and be graduated, without further attendance at College, in consideration of leave of absence granted them to enter a Corps of Engineers to serve under Gen. Fremont.

[Class Graduated to join Army] Resolved that the Degree of Bachelor of Science be conferred upon Albert F. Allen, Adam Bayley, L. Verna Beebe, Henry D. Benham, Charles E. Hollister, Gilbert A. Dickey, and Albert N. Prentiss, members of the Senior Class of the Agricultural College, who were excused before the close of the College Term to enlist in the Corp of Engineers from Battle Creek under command of Capt. Howland. to be attached to the army of General Freemont, and that Diplomas be granted to them.

Commencement Program, November 12, 1862

Source: Michigan State University Archives.

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