In honor of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of American University’s Watkins Memorial Collection, AU Special Collections will showcase three artists’ books from that collection in its third floor exhibit cases from Memorial Day though mid-August. Please stop by to check out these eye catching works.
Commencement ceremonies are the culmination of a student’s academic career. This momentous day is shared with family and friends. It is also an opportunity to hear from figures of national importance on topics ranging from career advice to world affairs. AU’s location in Washington, DC makes it possible to for campus to welcome a variety of national and world leaders. Over the years AU students have heard from artists, journalists, judges, politicians and scientists including Marian Anderson, Walter Cronkite, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Jay Gould, President John F. Kennedy, and Elie Wiesel.
Until Bender Arena was built, AU held its commencement ceremonies in a variety of campus and off-campus locations including DAR Constitution Hall and the Washington Hebrew Congregation. Starting next academic year, AU will be re-instituting winter commencement. AU held two ceremonies from 1976 through 2003.
One of American University’s earliest traditions was May Day. Based loosely on the English folk celebration, AU students elected a queen, held a pageant, and organized a program of dances. In 1932, the organizers selected an Elizabethan theme.
In 1937 and 1938, a group of men organized their own “Mock May Day” celebration. May Day celebrations were combined with the spring play in 1942 and campus day in 1946. May Day went out of fashion in the 1950s when AU students began electing class queens as well as fraternity “sweethearts.”