I was looking for some pictures of the 1950 commencement this afternoon, none too hopefully. While the early ceremonies are all carefully documented, things became more sporadic after the late 1940s. Commencement photos from the ’50s, ’60s and even into the 70s are kind of hit-or-miss. Sure enough, there’s no file for 1950. But since I was there anyway I picked up the folder labeled “Commencement 1968” out of the idlest kind of curiosity.
All that was in there was a single print–the one above-and a contact sheet. As I looked at the print, it occurred to me that this is a pretty interesting shot. Presidents Pitzer and Houston are walking together (with Mrs. Hobby directly in front of them) and it would be the last Rice graduation ceremony for both. Houston died on August 22, still at work, while attending the 111th International Conference on Low-temperature Physics at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland. Pitzer announced his resignation the very next day, August 23, to accept the presidency of Stanford.
As I turned my attention to the contact sheet I was startled to recall who the commencement speaker was that year. It was William Masterson, who would be selected by the Rice board as Pitzer’s successor the following February only to resign a tumultuous five days later.
As if that weren’t interesting enough, most of the pictures on the sheet show a reception of some kind that seems to have taken place sometime after the ceremony itself. I’m going to put up some of those tomorrow, as they are fascinating in their own right.
Well, ok. Here’s one of them, which I choose because it perfectly illustrates how things tend to go in the archives. A couple of weeks ago, everyone was looking for pictures of Hank Hudspeth ’40 and we found precious few. So of course now he turns up speaking at this event, (I think he was alumni president this year) looking very handsome and dignified:
Bonus: I happened to find myself in the gym this afternoon just as the NCAA women’s tennis brackets were being announced. The sound of so many happy young women when the name “Rice” was called was one I’ll enjoy remembering for a long time. Congratulations!