RIT Commencement and Convocation collection
Scope and Contents
Commencement planning documents from 1931-1988 include lists of invited guests, dossiers of speakers, formal invitations, newsclippings about the commencement speakers, convocation tickets, radio broadcast scripts, and correspondence.
Commencement programs became official in 1885 when the first classes were offered and continue straight through to the present in paper. Included are names of the speakers who gave commencement addresses and some transcripts of the addresses beginning in 1892. A list of the speakers is attached to this record.
Banners are created for each college to carry during the commencement processional. In 2009, two such banners were donated to the RIT Archives. One banner is for the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences (GCCIS), the other is American College of Management and Technology (ACMT) in Croatia, now known as RIT Croatia.
Also included in the collection are individual college ceremonies on VHS videotape from 1993 through 2003, and beginning with 2004 they are reproduced on DVDs. Included is a special video shown at the 1997 RIT Academic Convocation called
Matt's Special Room which is a 9 minute recap of the year at RIT.
- Creation: 1892-2019
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open to researchers.
Biographical / Historical
The earliest RIT Commencement address dates back to the first year the Institute became official, 1892. There were no degrees given then but an annual speaker gave an address to Institute members. The first was Frederic B. Pratt, President of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. In 1910, it appears that Edward G. Miner, the VP. and General Manager of Pfaudler Co. in Rochester, NY gave the address on "Industrial Education" at the graduating exercises. At this time certificates were handed out for courses completed.
The Academic Convocation celebrates the graduates from all nine of RIT's colleges, the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies, and the Golisano Institute for Sustainability and features a procession of the graduates wearing their caps and gowns, the official conferral of degrees by the RIT President, and a commencement address by an invited dignitary. Following that, each of the colleges have their own commencement ceremonies and receptions.
In the earliest days of the Institute, graduates would dress in garb signifying their department: for example, Domestic Science graduates wore caps and aprons, while Art School graduates wore smocks. After World War I and before 1955, graduates dressed in street clothes, the women usually wearing white. Caps and gowns were first worn in 1955. The faculty began to wear academic hoods in 1961.
First awarded certificate -1892; diploma - 1916; associate's degree - 1952; bachelor's degree - 1955; master's degree - 1960.
20 Linear Feet (3 cartons and 34 document boxes. Also included 14 bound volumes )
RIT Convocation and Commencment records include planning documents, speakers addresses, and programs from 1892 to present. The collection includes paper records, photographs, videotape and DVDs.
The collection is in chronological order.
Other Finding Aids
In addition to this finding aid, an inventory is available below. For more information, please contact the RIT Archive Collections.
RIT Commencement and Convocation records
Immediate Source of Acquisition
RIT Commencement records have been deposited to the RIT Archives annually.
Finding aid created by Jody Sidlauskas in March 2015.
- Rochester Institute of Technology -- Commencement ceremonies (Organization)
- Rochester Institute of Technology -- Students (Organization)
- RIT Commencement and Convocation collection
- RIT Archives
- Jody Sidlauskas
- 10 March 2015
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
- 1/19/2023: Added 14 document boxes from legacy files of commencement/convocation
- Carton: 1 (Computer Disks)
- Carton: 2 (Computer Disks)
- Carton: 3 (Computer Disks)
- Box: 1 Convocation: Addresses 1892-1940 (Paper Records)
- Box: 2 Convocation: Addresses 1941-1972 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: 1 Convocation: Planning 1931-1948 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: 2 Convocation: Planning 1949-1955 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: 3 Convocation: Planning1956-1962 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: 4 Convocation: Planning 1963-1968 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: 5 Convocation: Planning 1969-1973 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: 6 Convocation: Planning 1974-1988 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: 1 Commencement/Convocation 1885-1942 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: 2 Commencement/Convocation 1943-1964 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: 3 Convocation/Commencement 1965-1976 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: 4 Commencement/Convocation 1977-1983 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: 5 Commencement/Convocation 1984-1993 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: 6 Commencement/Convocation 1994-1998 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: 7 Commencement/Convocation 1999-2002 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: 8 Commencement/Convocation 2003-2007 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: 9 Commencement/Convocation 2008-2015 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: 10 Commencement/Convocation 2016-Present (Mixed Materials)
- Box: Management Convocation 1931-48 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: Management Convocation 1949-56 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: Management Convocation 1957-69 (Mixed Materials)
- Box: Management Convocation 1970-1988 (Mixed Materials)