Then & Now


Stanford University Archives
Linda A. Cicero

Stanford University’s first Commencement ceremony was a small affair: on June 15, 1892, 38 students gathered in Encina Gymnasium to receive their diplomas. The Commencement ceremony was held in the Main Quad’s Assembly Hall for the first time in 1899. Over the years, as the student body grew, the location of Commencement ceremonies moved from the Quad to Frost Amphitheater in 1937, and to the Stadium in 1985.

Though Commencement ceremonies were simple during Stanford’s earliest years, they grew to encompass a week-long celebration, and over time evolved into the present weekend form. Through the years, some of the celebratory activities became cherished Commencement traditions: the Baccalaureate – a multifaith celebratory gathering in front of class plaque dedication ceremony; senior dinner on the Quad; and the Commencement procession popularly known as the Wacky Walk.

Left: The Class of 1900 Commencement was held in the Assembly Hall (now Building 120 in the Main Quad). Right: Stanford’s 125th Commencement ceremony took place on June 12, 2016, in the Stanford Stadium.