As we prepare to celebrate the remarkable Class of 2022 at the 216th Commencement ceremony, we’re looking back at past moments in the history of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Commencements.

1826 — First Commencement ceremony takes place on April 26.

1852 — No Commencement ceremony is held. Due to a change in the program length in 1850, there was no class of 1852.

1906 — “Here’s to Old RPI,” which later becomes the Rensselaer alma mater, appears in the yearbook.

1913 — The first Commencement ceremony on the Troy campus takes place.

1916 — The first honorary degree, a Doctor of Engineering, is awarded to trustee Robert Hunt.

1919 — No Commencement ceremony is held. The Class of 1919 had an accelerated program due to World War I.

1946 — Lois Graham and Mary Ellen Rathbun Kolb become the first two women to receive degrees from Rensselaer.

1968 — The Commencement speaker is canceled due to the assassination of Robert Kennedy just two days before Commencement.

1994 — The Rensselaer flag is flown for the first time in front of the Houston Field House.

1999 — The Rensselaer mace, which is now carried at the head of all academic processions, is created.

For more information on this year’s Commencement ceremony, taking place on May 21, 2022, at 8:15 a.m., visit

Source: Institute Archives and Special Collections