This is yet another post where I have to explain that I thought I knew something but it turns out that I didn’t. I was startled into this particular realization by a photo I ran across of the 1955 commencement:
That’s the parking lot.
They’re actually having commencement in the gravel parking lot.
Here’s a picture of it a couple of years later without all the people, still a parking lot:
This was very unexpected. I had in my mind that graduation was held in front of the Chemistry Building until the parking lot was turned into the grassy lawn we now call Founder’s Court, seen here at President Pitzer’s inauguration in 1962:
This meant that I had to go get this figured out, which was tedious but not difficult. So here we go:
From 1916 through 1933, Commencement was held (always on a Monday, by the way) in the Administration Building Quadrangle:
In 1934 it rained and the indoor venue was St. Paul’s church (rather nicer than the gym):
From 1935 to 1943 they graduated in what was called the Court of the Chemistry Laboratories:
During World War II, when there were multiple smaller graduations, it hopped between St. Paul’s and the Faculty Chamber (now called the Founder’s Room).
By 1947 it was back in front of Chemistry, where it stayed until 1950, moving to Saturday’s in 1949. The biggest surprise for me was that in 1951 they moved it to the the gym — on purpose. I guess it was brand new and it must have seemed like a good idea to avoid any rain issues but they never did it again. I’d bet it was sweltering.
It was after the gym experiment that commencement moved to the parking lot, later the east lawn, where it remained until 1985. In 1986 we went back to where it all started, the Academic Quad, where the rearrangement of the hedges meant that more people could now fit in front of the stage. It’s been there since then, except for when it rained and moved to Autry Court. The last few pandemic years either we didn’t have a commencement or it’s been held out in the stadium.
I have no clue what wild idea these people will come up with next.
Bonus: The view today. Looks like a picnic set up for the freshmen.
Welcome to Texas: