Josiah Wood and Howard Sprague could hardly have imagined the foundation they were laying when they accepted Mount Allison’s first two Bachelor degrees in 1863.

first graduating class of Mount AllisonThe two young men made up Mount Allison’s entire first graduating class.

In May 2013, approximately 500 graduates followed the path they forged, receiving their degrees during the University’s 150th Convocation ceremony and adding their names to a roster of about 35,000 others who have earned a degree at Mount Allison.

Wood went on to become a lawyer, a businessman, a member of Parliament, a senator, the first mayor of Sackville, and New Brunswick’s lieutenant-governor. Sprague become an accomplished theologian and eventually returned to Mount Allison as dean of theology in 1908.

Wood and Sprague set the bar high, but those who have followed have risen to the challenge.

walking in to Convocation HallToday's Convocation ceremony is far different that what Wood and Sprague would have experienced 150 years ago.

In the early years the exercises consisted of a series of orations – in English, French, Greek, and Latin — by members of the freshman and junior classes, as well as by each graduating student.

Honorary degrees were introduced in 1866, while the valedictory address became part of the program in the early 1880s — one of the first was delivered by William Morley Tweedie, for whom Tweedie Hall is named.

The beloved Alma Mater Song, penned in 1904 by Winthrop P. Bell (1904), did not become part of the ceremony until 1948.

The printed program in 1863 was a single page — compared to the class of 2013’s 40-page booklet — and the 50th anniversary of Convocation saw 26 graduates receive their degrees, while at the 100th anniversary there were about 200.

But even with one of the largest classes ever, as there was in 2013, a Mount Allison Convocation always manages to feel like an intimate ceremony.

The Chancellor and the President take time to speak to each student to offer their congratulations, their best wishes for success, and occasionally a hug or a high five.

And as students walk off the stage, their Mount Allison career officially over, they are greeted by alumni – a reminder that they may be leaving Mount Allison, but they are forever part of the Mount Allison family.