Preparations for commencement are now in full swing. This morning I attended the inclement weather meeting, which turned out to be eye-opening:
We’ve handled it different ways in the past and as I listened I thought about Rice’s original rain plan, St. Paul’s Methodist Church on Main Street, here in 1934:
I’ve mused about commencement plans more often than I probably should but this morning I was struck by a new thought. I’d always assumed that the move from the Academic Quad over to the front of the Chemistry Building, which took place in 1935, was a response to the growing crowds at the ceremony. With closed hedges they could no longer fit along the front of the Administration Building. I’m sure this is a good part of the explanation but take a close look at the 1934 picture and you’ll see that they could not have squeezed one more person into that church.
So the decision to move to Chemistry and to cover the whole thing was both a way to accommodate more people and the new rain plan. See?
That was smart.
So why not just build a retractable roof over the Quad, something like the proposed roof for Rice Stadium?? That would fix it!
Bonus: Last time we had to go inside was 2010. All hands were on deck.
We sure had to go inside in 1981. And Autry Court was not air-conditioned.
Hackerman got to the podium and told us he had prepared a speech. He held up the stack of paper and tore it in half. After the crowd quieted down, he said he just wanted to tell us one thing. We wouldn’t get a better damned degree anywhere. Probably the biggest ovation of his career.
I remember 1981 as well. It rained all the previous day and the morning of graduation, so the administration decided to move graduation inside Autry Court. But the weather cleared and the sun came out and it got quite hot. The inside of Autry Court was like a steam bath. And because space was limited, you had to have a ticket to attend.
Your bonus photo brought back some bad memories. The chai contractor had shorted us a significant number of chairs, so the already late ceremony had to wait while we moved more chairs into the Fieldhouse and put them in place. Not a great day. It truly was all hands on deck.