Commencement Then and Now

More than 3,000 undergraduates and 1,800 graduates donned caps and gowns and walked across a stage to receive their diplomas and swell the ranks of the Colorado State University alumni family to almost a quarter-million people living and working around the world today.

The ceremonies were held over the course of three days in Moby Arena and Lory Student Center ballrooms. After each one, the new grads poured out of their venues to receive congratulatory hugs, high-fives, and fist bumps from family and friends. Many of them headed straight to the Oval to take pictures in front of the stately elms or the classically columned Administration Building. Some were lucky enough to get a selfie with CAM the Ram. All of them had smiles on their faces that reflected years of hard work completed, friendships made and strengthened, adversity overcome, a journey’s end, and another journey’s beginning.

Commencement, a bittersweet moment mixing relief and anticipation, is the University’s oldest and best tradition. It all started on June 5, 1884, when Libby Coy, George H. Glover, and Leonidas Loomis graduated from the State Agricultural College at Fort Collins, becoming the first three members of our alumni family. The ceremony took place at the Fort Collins Opera House on College Avenue. The proceedings included speeches by all three grads, remembered by an underclassman of the time as “highly polished efforts, practiced for entire semester and supervised by the President with regard to content and performance.”

After the program ended, President Ingersoll invited the three graduates and their families to lunch at a nearby hotel, where he suggested the formation of an alumni association. It turned out to be more of a fait accompli, as he had already prepared a constitution and bylaws.

The Alumni Association is celebrating its own ending and beginning as it prepares to leave its little red-brick house on College Avenue and move into new digs occupying the northwest corner of the new on-campus stadium. And though its constitution and bylaws have evolved, its mission remains the same: To connect our Ram (and Aggie) family to the University and each other. The Iris & Michael Smith Alumni Center will provide a venue for celebration, events, storytelling, keeping traditions, events, and honoring our alumni.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017. Welcome to the alumni family!