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Graduation ceremonies

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Clip: The first graduation ceremony at Alexandra Palace
Duration: 00:03:45
Date: 1973
Clip: First OU graduation
Duration: 00:02:36
Date: 1973

The Open University’s first degree ceremony was held in the Great Hall of Alexandra Palace on Saturday 23 June 1973. The size of the building and the facilities available such as parking were factors which tipped the balance in favour of the Great Hall being chosen over holding it at the University campus at Walton Hall in Milton Keynes.

The ceremony also included the installation of the new Chancellor, Lord Gardiner, who replaced the late Geoffrey Crowther. The OU’s first honorary degrees (Doctors of the University) were conferred upon several notables including Jennie Lee, Peter Venables, Lord Campbell of Eskan (Chair of Milton Keynes Development Corporation), Jane Drew (Open University Architect), Paulo Freire, and Michael Young.

Part of the ceremony was broadcast live on BBC2. The ceremony was deemed a great success in an article in OU staff magazine Open House and the choice of Alexandra Palace on a particularly hot summer’s day was described as having a “….cool hushed atmosphere” which “…provided a welcome haven from the equatorial conditions outside”.

Graduation ceremonies continued to be held at Alexandra Palace until the OU left the Palace in 1980.

The first clip on this page looks at the preparations for the first graduation ceremony and the OU graduation gowns.The second video on this page is a clip from the first ceremony, taken from OU programme Open Forum 9A 1973.

You can watch footage from a number of OU graduation ceremonies in the OUDA ceremonies collection.

Graduation ceremonies (page 1 of 1)