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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Commencement Orations.


At Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth, commencement appointments are awarded, as at Harvard, to all who attain a certain mark, which, however, has gradually been advanced. At Amherst the eight seniors who have obtained the highest average during the four years' course are the honor men at commencement. Lehigh and Swarthmore choose the highest six, the average being taken for the last three years of the course.

At Union the ten seniors having the highest standing receive commencement appointments, and are eligible to compete for prizes. Wesleyan also appoints ten speakers. At Colgate University, fifteen men receive appointments, regard being had for both standing and proficiency in literary and elocutionary work. At Northwestern University there may be as many as twelve chosen by the faculty for excellence in writing and elocution, though they must be of good standing in the class. Cornell has six, sometimes eight, representatives on commencement day. They are chosen by competition, all members of the senior class being asked to hand in orations to the faculty committee. The University of Michigan has not had commencement speakers for twelve years. Instead they have had an oration by some distinguished speaker.

At Lowa College there are nine commencement orators, elected from the senior class by its members. Hamilton appoints the highest third of the graduating class, together with the Pruyn, Head and Kirkland prize winners. Brown selects for delivery the best ten orations from those submitted by the highest three-fifths of the class in rank. In most of the other Eastern colleges the number of orators is from eight to twelve.

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