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University Relations

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May 11, 2005
Contact: Todd Cohen, University Relations, (785) 864-8858.

KU graduates to make traditional walk through Campanile, down hill May 22

LAWRENCE -- More than 4,000 members of the University of Kansas Class of 2005 will make the traditional walk down Campanile Hill during KU's 133rd commencement exercises Sunday, May 22, in Lawrence.

The graduates will make the long-awaited march down Mount Oread and into Memorial Stadium at 2:30 p.m. Chancellor Robert E. Hemenway will offer remarks and confer degrees beginning at about 3:30 p.m. Graduates will assemble along Memorial Drive at 2 p.m. The consumption of alcohol and cereal malt beverages on university property is strictly prohibited.

About 6,625 students are candidates for degrees in the Class of 2005. The class includes about 4,500 candidates for degrees in the spring, more than 1,275 who graduated at the end of the fall 2004 semester and more than 850 who completed coursework over summer 2004.

The tradition of a commencement procession begain in 1907 when faculty and graduates walked from old Fraser Hall to the then-new Robinson Gymnasium, where Wescoe Hall is now located. The commencement procession moved in 1924 when Memorial Stadium, built in honor of World War I veterans, was completed.

Those in attendance at Memorial Stadium will be able to watch a video presentation, the procession and the ceremony on the stadium's 24-by-32-foot video screen. The video presentation will begin at about 1:30 p.m.

The commencement ceremony will be simulcast in Woodruff Auditorium on the fifth level of the Kansas Union. The simulcast is provided specifically for people for whom the physical conditions in Memorial Stadium would be a barrier to their attendance at commencement. Sign language interpreters will be available in the bowl of the stadium. Reserved seating also will be available for people who need special assistance, including people in wheelchairs.

A live broadcast of the commencement ceremony will be produced courtesy of Rock Chalk Video and presented by the university television station, KUJH-TV, which broadcasts on channel 14 and on Sunflower Cablevision channel 31 in Lawrence. The full ceremony will air again at 7 p.m. May 22 and 23. Videotape of the ceremony may be purchased for $15 at

Commencement information and an up-to-date schedule of events are available online at The KU Information Center is available at (785) 864-3506 or email It will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. on May 22. The KU Visitor Center, 1502 Iowa St., will be open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 21 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., May 22.

If it rains the morning of commencement, an announcement will be made at 1 p.m. about arrangements for a postponed ceremony. Announcements will be made through the KU Information Center, (785) 864-3506, and radio stations, including KANU 91.5-FM, KLZR 105.9-FM, KJHK 90.7-FM, KFKF 94.1-FM, KMBZ 980-AM, WIBW 580-AM, WDAF 610-AM and KLWN 1320-AM, as well as Sunflower Cablevision Channel 6.

If the weather begins to clear in early afternoon, the first attempt to hold a postponed ceremony will be at 4:30 p.m. Graduates will assemble on Memorial Drive at 4 p.m. If the weather does not begin to clear in time for a 4:30 p.m. ceremony, a second attempt will be made at 6:30 p.m. Graduates will assemble on Memorial Drive at 6 p.m.

If it is still raining, the ceremony will be postponed until Monday, May 23, when graduates will line up at 8:30 a.m. for a 9 a.m. procession.

KU commencement history

University opens: 1866.

First commencement: June 11, 1873, with four graduates (three men, one woman).

Ceremonies (which lasted several days): baccalaureate sermon, class day, commencement procession into the chapel of University Hall, commencement oration, banquet, conferring of degrees.

KU confers 199 degree, first time above 100, at 1893 commencement.

Students first wear caps and gowns: about 1897.

Commencement in a tent: 1923. Because no campus building could accommodate all the guests, KU held commencement in a tent seating 3,400.

First march down the Hill: 1924. Graduates marched down the Hill to Memorial Stadium, where commencement ceremonies occurred.

Commencement program cut to two days: 1943. The Graduate Magazine reported that "the rationing of tires and gas and the conditions of travel on train and bus were not conducive to travel, but surprising numbers attended the various events."

Memorial Campanile dedicated in 1951; however, in 1950 the Graduate Magazine reported that "the graduating class marched through the base of the campanile by dint of some removal of scaffolding and other debris around the tower. As the custom for graduating classes to pass through the base of the memorial bell tower carries on through the years, the class of '50 doubtless will take pride that it was the first to observe the rite."

The new 24-by-32-foot video screen, in Memorial Stadium's new 60-foot-tall scoreboard, becomes part of the commencement: 2000, when spectators in the stadium watched the procession on the screen. In 2001, the university presented historical clips and other information about commencement.


The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus. | (785) 864-3256 | 1314 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045