We celebrate Commencement Weekend with a look at the University at Buffalo’s first commencement on June 16, 1847, Millard Fillmore, the Chancellor—as he continued to be for more than a quarter century—delivering an address of which appeared in the June, 1960 issue of the University of Buffalo Alumni Bulletin and now a part of the University at Buffalo Alumni Publications digital collection.
This is the first time we have ever been called upon to witness the interesting ceremony of conferring the time-honored degrees of a collegiate course. Here for the first time we see assembled the officers and professors of a literary institution, located in our midst, and destined we trust to shed its literary and scientific blessings, not only upon the youth of our own prosperous city, but upon those of the surrounding country and adjacent States. The patriot and scholar rejoice at the brilliant prospect that opens before us.
Having no buildings, one was leased for three years, at the corner of Washington and Seneca streets, and fitted up at considerable expense for the purpose, and the first annual course of lectures commenced by this distinguished body of professors on the first Wednesday of February last, which term is now about to close. The whole number of students attending has been seventy-two—some eighteen of whom will receive their diplomas of Doctors of Medicine today. These are the first fruits of this literary and scientific vineyard, and trust they are only samples of a more abundant harvest that is to be annually gathered hereafter.
If at the commencement any doubted the success of this enterprise, or thought the attempt premature, we trust that enough has now been done to dispel every doubt, and allay every apprehension. For never within our knowledge has any medical college opened with so large a class of students and closed its first year under such flattering auspices.
Be assured, that you have established an institution eminently useful to yourselves, which will become the pride and ornament of our city, and for which you will receive the grateful thanks and fervent blessings of unborn millions.
Millard Fillmore, June 16, 1847