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Life on the Quads
A Centennial View of
the Student Experience at the
University of Chicago
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Student marshals, undated.

Student marshals, undated. Student marshals were men appointed by the president to assist in maintaining good order at convocation exercises and other official University ceremonies. Women so honored were designated student aides.

 

"Details of the Convocation," Autumn Quarter, 1900.

"Details of the Convocation," Autumn Quarter, 1900. Although convocations were held each quarter, their location shifted with the season and the number of prospective graduates. At his request, President Harper received elaborate descriptions of the convocation procession, which on this occasion began in Walker Museum, moved past a bandstand to a platform in front of North (now Gates) Hall, and ended at Haskell Hall.

Convocations

At the end of every quarter, a cycle of student careers is brought to a close. Fully capped and gowned, candidates for degrees assemble in carefully ordered procession and play their part in the academic ceremony which President Harper decided a century ago would be known as the convocation.

The sites for these convocations have changed as the size of the student body and the capacity of University buildings have grown. Early convocations were held in the Kent Lecture Hall, in Bartlett Gymnasium, or in Mandel Hall. Some were staged downtown in a large auditorium, Studebaker Hall. When weather permitted during the spring and summer seasons, the graduates, faculty members, University officials, and their guests gathered outdoors at temporary platforms erected in Hutchinson Court, in Harper Court, or in the Graduate Quadrangle along the east front of Gates, Blake, and Goodspeed Halls. With the opening of the University Chapel (later renamed Rockefeller Memorial Chapel) in 1928, the University finally acquired an interior space adequately scaled for the quarterly convocation ritual.


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