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First graduation of four-year students in the Sunken Garden. Students are facing west.

The first commencement held on the Davis campus

Since commencement season is upon us, we decided to travel back in time to the first commencement held on the Davis campus.

Prior to 1948, students completing the requirements for the certificate of graduation in the two-year curricula or the Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the College of Agriculture, were awarded their degrees at the commencement exercises at the University of California, Berkeley.

The first commencement held on the Davis campus occurred on June 17, 1948 and took place in the Sunken Garden. The courtyard of Shields Library marks the present day location of the Sunken Garden. A plaque there commemorates the site.

Student addresses were delivered by William D. Zanker (certificate of graduation) and Albert C. Hansen (B.S. in agriculture) with  remarks to the graduates provided by Knowles A. Ryerson, Assistant Dean of the College of Agriculture and Claude B. Hutchison, Vice-President and Dean of the College of Agriculture. Robert Gordon Sproul, President of the University of California, also gave an address.

Below is an image, from the University Archives Photographs, of the 1949 commencement.

Commencement in the Sunken Garden, 1949


Archives and Special Collections Campus and Local History


Campus history commencement