Campus Life

Spring commencement at Penn State, 85 years ago

Penn State's spring commencement, June 1930, held in Rec Hall on the University Park campus. Credit: Penn State University Archives / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Capped-and-gowned seniors and their families fill Rec Hall for Penn State's spring commencement in this photograph from June 1930. Ceremonies had been relocated from the Old Main chapel following a steady increase in the University's enrollment, and as you can see, already Rec Hall was filled to capacity.

For the academic year 1929-30, Penn State granted a total of 881 diplomas, bringing the grand total of degrees conferred since 1860 — the first year degrees were awarded — to 12,233. Undergraduate centers — today's Commonwealth Campus system —  would not be established for another four years.

Flash-forward to today: This weekend, May 8-10, Penn State seniors will don their regalia for spring commencement ceremonies at all locations, receiving an estimated 14,379 diplomas University-wide at the end of this semester and bringing the number of degrees awarded since 1860 to a total of approximately 795,406.

In addition to the original Old Main chapel and Rec Hall, commencement exercises on the University Park campus also have been held in New Beaver Field, Schwab Auditorium, Beaver Stadium, Eisenhower Auditorium and the Bryce Jordan Center, and this year for the first time, the Pegula Ice Arena.

Last Updated May 07, 2015