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Commencement at West Chester University

by Tara Wink on 2017-05-11T12:42:12-04:00 in Archives, Digital Archives, History

The first commencement ceremony at West Chester State Normal School took place on June 25, 1874, in Old Main Auditorium.  According to The Centennial History of West Chester State College by Russell L. Sturzebecker, the 1874 program listed ten students as graduates:  one man and nine women.

The oldest commencement program housed in West Chester University Library’s Special Collections is from 1875.  

Special Collections has a number of interesting photographs from commencements of years past.  The photograph to the right is of the commencement activities from the summer of 1944.  The photo appears to have been taken from one of the upper floors of Philips Memorial Building.  Note the Quad area, including Old Main Hall, and the Old Gymnasium.  Also note:  most, if not all the graduates in their caps and gowns are female due to World War II.

Over the years, Commencement Speakers have included locally, regionally, and nationally recognized educational leaders.  They have also included government leaders including four governors of Pennsylvania (last one being William Scranton in 1965), and one future president (Gerald Ford in 1971).   

Medical expert and television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz  was the Keynote Speaker in 2011.

Distinguished alumni have also been commencement speakers.  Michael Brune, Class of 1993, Executive Director of The Sierra Club, was the Keynote Speaker in 2012.

On May 13th – May 14th 2017, over 2,500 students -  including undergraduate and graduate students - are expected to graduate from West Chester University.  Will you be one of them?   

Blog post written by Neal Kenney, Library Assistant for Interlibrary Loan and Special Collections.


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