As the school year comes to a close many of UMKC’s students prepare to graduate, say farewell to their time here, and plan the next phases of their lives. While we in the University Archives do spend time looking forward as well, now seemed to be a good time to look back to Commencement Ceremonies of years past….
In 1936, UKC, as the university was then known, held its first Commencement exercises in June. Of the 76 graduates in that first class, the oldest and the youngest graduates were singled out for the photograph below. Edith Bruen, the oldest graduate, is on the left; notably, her age was not actually given in the press release, only the fact that she was a “grandmother”. Clementine Templin, the youngest graduate at 20, is on the right. You may notice the black circle on the photograph. In the days before digital images and photo editing software, original prints were marked or retouched before printing. In this case, the original photo editor wanted the image to be cropped in a circle. As we do not have the original negative nor any extra, untouched, prints, this photo is permanently defaced.
The 1945 Commencement was a special affair for UKC. That year the school bestowed an honorary degree in Doctor of Laws to President Harry Truman. Truman had briefly attended the Kansas City School of Law in 1924. By 1938 that same independent law school merged with UKC. At the time of this photo, the increased attendance for the special commencement ceremonies required the graduation be held in Municipal Auditorium for the first time.
Of course, while commencement is a solemn occasion, it is also a time of joy and levity… just ask these card players….
I wonder if they managed to finish their game before they were called up to the stage to accept their diplomas….