As this week sees many students from the University of Surrey graduating from the university after several years of hard work, it seems apt that we take the opportunity to reflect on all the thousands of students who have graduated from us over the years.
It is always lovely to reflect on the special day of graduations, because it really is just that, a special day. After the long hard slog of essays, assignments, exams and dissertations you finally get to celebrate and be congratulated and rewarded by peers, academics and your friends and family. It really is a treat to see the students walk about campus in their academic dress.
Within the archives we have a great wealth of information relating to graduation ceremonies from Battersea Polytechnic to the University of Surrey.
Everyone’s graduation experience begins with the all-important results, and then an invitation to the graduation ceremony.
The day in itself requires a huge amount of coordination to ensure that it runs smoothly and is the best experience for our graduands. Within the archives we have papers about the organisation and running of the event, copies of speeches by the Vice-Chancellor and running orders for ceremonies.
One of the defining moments of any graduation ceremony is of course going to pick up the academic dress for the ceremony, donning the robes, hood and cap make the event seem much more real and distinctive. Within the archives we are very lucky to have on loan to us from Ede & Ravenscroft a collection of academic hoods used at the University of Surrey in the graduations of all major subjects and disciplines.
Each individual at the ceremony will receive a programme for the ceremony, containing the running order of the ceremony, the high officers in attendance and any honorary degrees. The archives has a complete collection of these for the University of Surrey, as you can see they have changed slowly changed in their appearance since 1966.
The University also publishes a special copy of the Gazette which contains the names of those who are graduating in each subject.
These days the graduation ceremonies for the University of Surrey are held at Guildford Cathedral, which is quite conveniently just up the hill! But in the early history of Surrey this was not the case, one of the locations they were held was in Central Hall Westminster – this is due to the link to the area from Battersea Polytechnic, the founding institution of University of Surrey. During these early years the move from Battersea to Guildford had not been completed and many students were still completing their studies in Battersea. The graduations have been taking place at Guildford Cathedral since 1970 by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter.
The University of Surrey is also very honoured and proud to award honorary awards to significant individuals who have made a real contribution to their particular field. A full listing of those awarded can be seen here. But it is fair to say that there has been quite a variety of esteemed individuals – from Dame Judy Dench and Dame Sybil Thorndike to Sir Idris Pearce, Professor Lord Robert Winston and Professor Noel Fitzpatrick. The list goes on – you’ll be surprised just who has been honoured.
Lord Robens of Woldingham, the University of Surrey’s first Chancellor with Dame Sybil Thorndike who received an Honorary doctorate at the first Honorary Degree Ceremony 22 October 1966
For some the final part of graduations is attending the graduation ball – finally saying goodbye to friends and to the university and celebrating in style.
So although it is a sad occasion in some respects, saying goodbye to a place that has been your home for many years, it is also a time of happiness and the start of a very bright future.