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UMass Dartmouth commencement and baccalaureate service records

Identifier: URC-017

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the collection consists of commencement programs, minutes of the Commencement Committee, press files and audio and video tapes of the commencement. There are a few recordings of the Baccalaureate Service. There are a few invitations and tickets, as well as a small selection of speeches, mostly those by UMass Dartmouth presidents. There are some programs for baccalaureate services, but not a complete set. Since 1966, the Library’s Audio Visual Service has taped audio of commencement, and since 1992 they have videotaped it as well. The collection is a complete set of recordings for all commencements since 1966 with the exception of audio for 1976 and 1977, and video for 1999. Honorary Degree Sub-committee correspondence is included in the Commencement Committee records. Of note are the lists of honorary degree recipients. On the attached list are honorary degree recipients and keynote speakers since 1968, compiled by archives staff. For records of these committees after 1994, see URC 19, records of the Faculty Senate. The press files contain press releases about the commencement as well as photographs and biographical information on honorary degree recipients since 1985. Digital surrrogates available for most years.


  • 1903-2017


Biographical / Historical

The first UMass Dartmouth graduation exercises were held in 1901 when its predecessor school, the New Bedford Textile School (NBTS), graduated 10 day students and 92 evening students. NBTS actually graduated its first class of students (3 day and 36 night) in 1900 after instruction commenced October 16, 1899, but there does not appear to have been any formal awarding of diplomas and certificates (see Board of Trustees records URC 1, volume 1, page 46). The first official graduation exercises at the other predecessor school, the Bradford Durfee Textile School, took place in June, 1906. The school graduated its first group of students the previous year, after it opened its doors in the fall of 1904.

Since 1966 all UMass Dartmouth commencements have taken place on the North Dartmouth campus, and between 1973 and 2016, in the Vietnam Veteran’s Peace Memorial Amphitheatre (with the Gymnasium as the alternative site in case of rain). At least as far back as 1964 the Commencement Committee has been charged with planning the event and recommending speakers and Honorary Degree candidates. Up until 1995 this committee consisted of students, staff, faculty members and one trustee. Between 1977 and 1995 a separate subcommittee of the Commencement Committee, the Honorary Degree Sub-committee, has been charged to choose the latter, which were approved for invitation by the Southeastern Massachusetts University (SMU) Board of Trustees. With the reorganization of the Massachusetts University system in 1992, and dissolution of the SMU Board of Trustees, both the Commencement Committee and the Honorary Degree Committees were left with no clear line of reporting. Therefore, effective with the planning committee for the 1996 Commencement, both came under the umbrella of the Faculty Senate. The current makeup of the committees are as follows: Commencement Committee (6 faculty, the senior class officers and representatives of Facilities, Auxiliary Services, Publications, University Records, Budget, Alumni Affairs, and Security); Honorary Degree Committee (6 faculty, 3 students and 3 administrators). For many years, both the commencement and the baccalaureate service, a religious service, took place on a Sunday two weeks after the end of finals; the commencement in the afternoon and the baccalaureate in the morning. Over the years, it has moved to a few days after the end of finals. It has grown in size exponetially, resulting in separate ceremonies for individual colleges. In 2017 and 2018 it moved to another venue entirely (The Xfinity Center), but moved back to campus again in 2019.


8.75 Linear Feet (21 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection is divided into 4 series: 1) Programs, tickets and speeches; 2) Commencement Committee Records and press files 3) Audio recordings; and 4) Video (VHS and DVD).

UMass Dartmouth commencement and baccalaureate service records
Judy Farrar
June 1999
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
First edition 1999

Repository Details

Part of the Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Repository

285 Old Westport Rd.
N. Dartmouth MA 02747 USA