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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Commencement

By Paul A. Engelmayer

Workmen are permanently extending the platform in front of Memorial Church to increase seating space at Commencement for University faculty and alumni.

University marshal William G. Anderson '39 said yesterday the extension will seat nearly 450 people, adding that a shortage of platform seats last year forced some faculty to take the seats of graduating students.

"We're going to make certain that all candidates have seats this year," Anderson said, adding that the larger terrace will increase overall seating capacity to 18,380 for the ceremonies. He said he expects about 20,000 people to attend.

Commencement, which will be held June 5, takes place in Tercentenary Theater, the area between Widener Library and Memorial Church. Faculty have traditionally sat on the platform in front of the church, Anderson said.

Extending the platform will add about 50 feet to each side of the existing granite terrace, Frederick B. Jackson, superintendent of the facilities, said yesterday.

The extension will be earth-filled and level to the terrace, Jackson said, adding that workmen will move several ewe trees behind the terrace to make room for it.

Anderson and Jackson declined to comment on the cost of the extension.

Jackson said he expects the extension to be completed by May 1, giving the sod beneath the terrace time to get firm.

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