Audio of Past Commencement Ceremonies
The traditional "charge" to graduating seniors has been given in Storrs since 1883 when the first six boys graduated with two-year certificates in agriculture. Recordings of undergraduate ceremonies exist from the early 1980s to the present with a few rare exceptions. The oldest recording available is from 1963. Additional audio, and in some cases, complete addresses, from other years will be added as they are retrieved from the University's archival recordings.
Winter Commencement ceremonies were held in December from 2004-2008, and audio for most of those ceremonies is available.
1963 - Raymond Baldwin Clip: 26.4 sec/52kb | Complete Address: 18.5MB (Sound quality is very good)
Gov. Raymond Baldwin (R-Conn. 1939-1941, 1943-1946) signed the legislation that turned Connecticut State College into the University of Connecticut in 1939. He spoke at the first commencement presided over by President Homer D. Babbidge (1962-1972). The ceremony was held outdoors in Memorial Stadium on a hot day in June.
1977 - Clifton R. Wharton, Jr Clip: 28.5 sec/556kb (Sound quality is fair)
Clifton R. Wharton, president of Michigan State University (1970-1978), was the first African American president of a major U.S. university. In his address at UConn, he cautioned the graduates' expectations of guaranteed security that was characteristic of the 1960s.
1982 - Oakes Ames Clip #1: 33.4 sec/108kb | Clip #2: 25.6 sec/85kb (Sound quality is fair)
Oakes Ames, president of Connecticut College (1974-1988), spoke about the dangers of nuclear war [Clip #1], but was optimistic about the future [Clip #2]. He cautioned against violent protest, favoring civil debate.
1983 - Douglas Edwards Clip #1: 25 sec/84kb | Clip #2: 29.8 sec/98kb (Sound quality is fair)
Douglas Edwards was a CBS news anchor who preceded Walter Cronkite on the network's evening news broadcast. He offered fatherly advice to the graduates [Clip #1] and a measured but optimistic view of the world [Clip #2].
1983 - Victor Borge Complete Remarks: 3.87MB
Musician-comedian Victor Borge, a long-time supporter of the University for whom a fine arts scholarship was named, received an honorary degree at the 1983 Graduate Commencement ceremony. He spoke briefly after receiving the honorary degree. He was introduced by UConn President John A. DiBiaggio.
1993 - Randall Pinkston Clip: 28.1 sec/56kb (Sound quality is very good)
1993 - Ron Howard Clip: 55.5 sec/109kb (Sound quality is very good)
Film producer/director/actor Ron Howard received an honorary degree during the 1993 undergraduate ceremony. The audio clip here has his complete remarks.
1994 - Peter Guber Clip: 31. sec/61kb | Complete Address: (20.9 MB) (Sound quality is good)
Peter Guber, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Sony Entertainment/ColuMBia Pictures (1989-1995), received an honorary degree in fine arts during the undergraduate ceremony. His advice to graduates had to do with rapidly changing technoloy and how it would affect the future and especially the lives of the graduates.
1995 - Michael Bolton Clip #1: 11 sec/25kb | Clip #2: 29.9sec/59kb | Complete Address: (16.4 MB) (Sound quality is good)
Singer/songwriter and social activist Michael Bolton, a native of New Haven, Conn., offered graduates advice based on his experiences in the entertainment world.
1996 - Sanford Cloud Clip: 23.6 sec/47kb | Complete Address: (27.0 MB) (Sound quality is very good)
Sanford Cloud, a former Connecticut Senator (1977-1980), president and CEO of The National Conference for Community and Justice (1994-2004), spoke at the afternoon ceremony. He challenged the graduates to work for social justice for everyone.
1997 - Robert Fiondella Clip #1: 31.6 sec/62kb | Clip #2: 25.3 sec/50kb | Complete Address: (18.5 MB) (Sound quality is very good)
Robert Fiondella, chair, president and CEO of Phoenix Home Life Mutual Insurance (1994-2001), and a meMBer of the Class of 1968, UConn School of Law,gave a personal talk, about the support of his parents and family throughout his career. He advised the graduate about making life choices [Clip #1], and shared some of his own Clip #.
1998 - George H. W. Bush Clip: 69.7 sec/137kb | Complete Address: (14.9 MB) (Sound quality is very good)
George H. W. Bush, U.S. president from 1989 to 1993, and vice president from 1981 to 1989, urged students to live a life that included service, giving back to their community, state and nation.
1999 - David McCullough Clip #1: 44.8 sec/88kb | Clip #2: 59.7 sec/117kb | Complete Address: 15.4 MB) (Sound quality is very good)
David McCullough, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author (Truman, John Adams), and narrator/host of public television's "The American Experience", advised graduates to continue their education through reading.
2000 - Christopher Dodd Clip #1: 20 sec/40kb | Clip #2: 27.5 sec/54kb | Complete Address: (19.7 MB) (Sound quality is very good)
U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn. 1981-2011) offered advice on five qualities common to successful people, including sharing success with others -- while resisting retaliation; and he cited another quality of successful people - failure [Clip #1]. He also cited many firsts that have occurred in Connecticut - first public library, first written constitution, first school for the disabled, and others [Clip #2].
2001 - Rod Paige Clip #1: 26 sec/44KB | Clip #2: 28 sec/59KB | Complete Address: (11.1 MB) (Sound quality is very good.)
Rod Paige, U.S. Secretary of Education (2001-2005), said no society in history has had the the goal of Leave No Child Behind [Clip #1]. Paige also told the graduates to show the world the quality of their UConn education [Clip #2].
2002 - John G. Rowland Complete Address: (17.0) (Sound quality is very good.)
John G. Rowland, governor of Connecticut (1995-2004), presented the graduates with four principals of personal responsibility - which were the main topic of his address. He also challenged the students to change society [Clip #1] and projected their future [Clip # 2].
2003 - Les Payne Clip #1: 204k - 29 seconds | Clip #2: 218K - 31 seconds | Complete Address: (21.9 MB) (Sound quality is very good.)
Les Payne, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and editor and columnist, and UConn alumus (Class of 1964) urged graduating seniors to avoid the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse - indifference. Payne gave advice about dealing with a tight job market [Clip #1] and told students that they must go now and making things better for those who come after them [Clip #2].
2004: May - John W. Rowe Complete Address: 2.9MB (7 minutes) | (Sound quality is very good.)
Dr. John W. Rowe, head of Aetna Inc., and chair of the University of Connecticut's Board of Trustees (2003 - 2009), gave the graduates advice from his own life experiences.
2004: December - Franklin Chang-Diaz Audio Unavailable
Franklin Chang-Diaz, engineer, physicist and former NASA astronaut (1980-2005) and UConn alumnus (Class of 1973), told the graduates "There's a whole universe out there to be discovered. The first human to walk on Mars is already living and may be sitting in this auditorium."
2005: May - Eduardo Aguirre Complete Address: 5.7MB (14 minutes) (Sound quality is very good.)
Eduardo Aguirre, first director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (2003-2005) and U. S. aMBassador to Spain and Andorra (2005-2009). He told the graduates that, fresh from their student days, they should remeMBer to serve others and to give back .
2005: December - Robert Ballard Complete Address: 6 MB (15 minutes) (Sound quality is very good.)
Robert Ballard, marine scientist and undersea explorer, told the graduates that the " journey is not over once your goal is reached, your dream fulfilled, the truth attained. The journey is never over until you share what you have learned with others."
2006: May - Rosa DeLauro Complete Address: 10 MB (20 minutes) (Sound quality is very good.)
U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn. 3rd Dist.) offered a challenge to the graduating class. Her remarks came just after she received an honorary doctoral degree from the University.
2006: December - Robert E. Diamond Complete Address: 15 MB (16 minutes) (Sound quality is very good.)
Robert E. Diamond, president of Barclays PLC, offered advice to the graduates which he had received from his father: "Iif you want to be a winner, get out there and act like a winner."
2007: May - Fay Weldon Complete Address: 15 MB (16 minutes) (Sound quality is very good.)
Fay Weldon, author (The Life and Loves of a She-Devil), essayist, and playwright, told the graduates that life is one long assignment "to deliver with the best will, and the best results, that you possibly can."
2007: December - Due to inclement weather, the 2007 Winter Commencement was not held.
2008: May - Rebecca Lobo - CLAS Undergraduate Ceremonies Complete Address: 18.3 MB (16 minutes) (Sound quality is excellent)
Rebecca Lobo, UConn Class of 1995 and of the 1995 NCAA championship UConn women's basketball team, is a sports broadcaster and meMBer of the UConn Board of Trustees.
2008: May- Garry Wills - Graduate Ceremony Complete Address: 8.3 MB (8.5 minutes) Sound quality is excellent
Garry Wills is a scholar and journalist and recipient of numerous awards including the Pulitzer Prize.
2008: December - Denis M. McCarthy Complete Address & conferral of honorary degree (12 minutes) ( Sound quality is excellent)
Dennis M. McCarthy is the retired chairman, CEO and president of Fidelity Management Trust Co., a subsidiary of Fidelity Investments, one of the world’s leading providers of financial services. He earned a bachelor’s degree at UConn in 1964, and a master’s degree in 1965
2008: December - Remarks by Undergraduate Student Representative Adam Pennarola (5 minutes)
2009: Timothy Shriver - CLAS Undergraduate Ceremonies Complete Address: 17.5 MB (19 minutes) Sound quality is excellent
Timothy Shriver is chairman and chief executive officer of Special Olympics. He earned his doctorate in special education from UConn in 1997.
2009: Welcoming remarks by UConn President Michael Hogan: 12.6 MB (14 minutes) Sound quality is excellent
2010: Michael Turvey - CLAS Undergraduate Ceremonies Complete Address: 14.9 MB (16 minutes) Sound quality is excellent
Michael Turvey is an emeritus professor of psychology who is nationally known for his work in perception and coordinated movement. Turvey, who came to UConn in 1967, has won dozens of awards, including the Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor award in 2000 and the Alumni Association Distinguished Professor award in 1994.
2010: Remarks by UConn President Michael Hogan: 9.7 MB (10 minutes)
2011: Cyrus Ernesto Zirakzadeh - CLAS Ceremonies Complete Address: 25 mb (26.5 minutes) Sound quality is excellent
Ernie Zirakzadeh, a professor of political science, has been with UConn for more than two decades. His work over the years has examined the origins, activities, and evolution of social movements in Western and Central Europe, and in Latin and North America. He has been director of the Honors Program and twice was elected chair of the Executive Committee of the University Senate.
2011: Mia Farrow - School of Fine Arts Ceremony Complete Address & Honorary Degree Conferral: 13 mb (14 minutes) Sound quality is excellent
Mia Farrow has appeared in more than 40 films in addition to work on the stage and television. She is also known as an unrelenting advocate for human rights, with her primary focus on conflict-affected regions of sub-Sahran Africa. During the ceremony, she also received an honorary degree, presented by Provost Peter J. Nicholls.
2011: Dannel P. Malloy - Graduate Ceremony Complete Address: 10 mb (11 minutes) Sound quality is excellent
Dannel P. Malloy is the 88th governor of the State of Connecticut. After serving as an assstant district attorney in Brooklyn, NY, Malloy returned to his hometown of Stamford where he served on the Board of Education and then, for 14 years, he served as mayor. He was elected governor in 2010.
2012: President Susan Herbst - CLAS Afternoon Ceremony Complete Address: 6 MB (6.5 minutes) Sound quality is excellent
Susan Herbst was president of UConn and previously was executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer of the University System of Georgia.
2012: Joelle Katz - CLAS Evening Ceremony Complete Address: 15 MB (16 minutes) Sound quality is excellent
Joelle Katz, ('77 LAW), was commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families and an associate justice of the State Supreme Court.
2012: Robert Gallo - Graduate Ceremony Complete Address: 16.6 MB (18 minutes) Sound quality is excellent
Robert Gallo was the founding director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
2013: Dr. Frank Torti - CLAS Afternoon Ceremony Complete Address: 13.2 MB (14.5 minutes) Sound quality is excellent.
Dr. Frank Torti was dean of the UConn School of Medicine.
2013: Denise Merrill - CLAS Evening Ceremony Complete Address: 13.5 MB (15 minutes) Sound quality is excellent.
Denise Merrill, a former state representative (D-54th), was Connecticut's Secretary of the State.
2013: Jeffrey Immelt - Graduate School Ceremony Complete Address: 32.5 MB (17.5 minutes) Sound quality is excellent.
Jeffrey Immelt was chairman and chief executive officer of General Electric Corp.
Information on the History of Commencement pages was researched and compiled by Mark J. Roy (Class of 1974), who also recorded commencement ceremony audio from 1981 through 2009.