The first commencement ceremony at NC State — at that time, the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts — was a three-day affair that took place in the spring of 1893. And for the next 97 years, the spring event was the only annual graduation ceremony to take place at the university.
But that all changed on this day in 1991, when 6,000 people gathered in Reynolds Coliseum to be a part of NC State’s first fall commencement.
A Technician article explained the December ceremony, which would become a mainstay at the university, arose after a many student pleas and requests by the NCSU Parent’s Board. Up until then, students who had graduated in the summer or fall would have to wait until the subsequent spring to put on their robe and stride boastfully to “Pomp and Circumstance.”
According to the article, 1,900 students received their diplomas that day, and Larry Monteith, who was chancellor, addressed the graduates and their families.
“We will need leadership,” Monteith said in closing, “we will need commitment, we will need education, we will need goodwill and we will need moral character.”