The Graduate School convocation began in 1926, when, because of the large number of degree recipients, it was decided to hold separate exercises for the awarding of advanced degrees on Tuesday, the day after Commencement. In 1928 the ceremony was scheduled for the Saturday preceding Commencement. During World War II the Graduate School Convocation was omitted and advanced degrees were awarded at Commencement. In 1958 the time of the Convocation was changed to take place in Sayles Hall at the same time as the Commencement exercises in the First Baptist Meeting House. In 1989 the site of the Convocation was changed to Lincoln Field. That year for the first time a doctoral candidate, Carole-Anne Tyler ’89 Ph.D., gave an address, and Dean of the Graduate School Phillip J. Stiles delivered the principal address. Many noted persons have been the principal speaker at the Convocation, and some of the addresses have been published in the Brown University Papers series.
In 1978, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Graduate School, citations “for distinguished contributions to society through scholarship or related professional activity” were awarded to alumni of the Graduate School for the first time. The first citations were received by Joaquin B. Diaz ’45 Ph.D., Robert W. Morse ’49 Ph.D., Betty Horenstein Pickett ’49 Ph.D., Gordon W. Teal ’31 Ph.D., and Laurence W. Wylie ’40 Ph.D. Since that time citations have been awarded annually to Graduate School alumni.
A three day convocation, “On the Future of Knowledge,” was held on October 29-31, 1989, honoring one hundred years of Ph.D. degrees granted by the University. Speakers included Lauro Cavazos, Hanna Gray, H. Guyford Stever, John Mellon, David Saxon, Joseph Duffey, Carol Guardo, Walter Massey, Gerald Edelman, Eliot Stellar ’47 Ph.D., Thomas Kuhn, David Black, Mary Maples Dunn, Carlton Alexis, Steven Muller, and David Gardner.