Friday, June 11, 2010

Fifty Years and Counting, the Class of 1960

In the fall of 1956 the Class of 1960 matriculated as the largest class in the College’s history to that point. While they participated in all the usual activities (Bonfire, Tug of War, Gauntlet) there were some things that made the experience of the last “50s” class different from that of their predecessors. Some were unremarkable (the Nugget Theater raising its price to 65 cents for a movie) while others changed the face of the College forever (the long threatened, and much anticipated, construction of a performing arts center—the HOP—was finally begun).

During their time in Hanover they also saw a major change in the College’s academic calendar with the institution of a three-term structure. A petition of the students and faculty in their junior year showed that the majority of both bodies were in favor of coeducation. In response the Committee on Educational Policy voted to study the possibility, though it would take another twelve years before that dream would become a reality. Visiting hours for dorms were extended, but this didn’t make up for the lack of women on campus.


While Skiing, Basketball and Football claimed major prizes (NCAA championship for the first and Ivy League championships for the last two) fraternities faced a harsher reality. In response to an Inter Fraternity Council decision in 1954, all fraternities had to remove discriminatory membership clauses by April 1960. Many fraternities chose to break with their national affiliates over this policy, changing the face of the College forever.

Through all this the Class of 1960 persevered, and in June graduated, just as the Class of 2010 will this Sunday.

Curious to know more about the Class of 1960 and their experience of Dartmouth? Come see an exhibit of materials from the Archives on display in Rauner Library, Friday June 11 through Sunday June 13 in Room 109.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What to Wear to Commencement

Reports differ on exactly when Dartmouth students began wearing caps and gowns, but the tradition appears to have been firmly established in 1892 after at least a couple of years of discussion.  According to The Dartmouth of Jan. 5, 1892 (v. 13, no. 8, p. 116):  [The class of] "Ninety-two has voted to wear the cap and gown during commencement week.  This is the customary English academic dress and has been that of the commencement speakers at Harvard.  Recently the dress has been adopted by nearly all of the eastern colleges as the dress of the whole senior class for longer or shorter periods.  These colleges include Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Amherst and Williams.  Some have adopted the dress for the whole year, some for the spring term, but the majority for commencement week alone.  The dress will certainly be comfortable and inexpensive and add dignity to our commencement exercises."

The Dartmouth Ph.D. gown, designed in the early 1960s, is made of a dark green (Dartmouth green) faille with a green pine tree motif embroidered on both sides of the front at lapel level on the black velvet trim.  The three bands on the arms (denoting Ph.D.) are of black velvet, the hood is black with blue velvet trim and dark green lining, and the hat is wide brimmed of black velvet (Beefeater) with a gold tassel.

You can examine the Dartmouth Ph.D. cap and gown by requesting Realia 106.  For more information about the history of academic dress and what all of those colors, hoods, and trimmings mean, see An Academic Costume Code and An Academic Ceremony Guide, from the American Council on Education.

Best wishes to all Dartmouth graduates!