This Month in Our History - June

June 22, 1899 –St. Thomas College First Commencement
St. Thomas College held its first Commencement in June 1899, awarding certificates to graduates of the College’s two-year commercial program. The ceremony was held in College Hall. Later commencement exercises would be held in city theatres (the Strand, Academy, and Capitol), the Scranton High School Auditorium, the Temple Auditorium (now the Scranton Cultural Center), on the campus grounds, and (beginning in 2000) at the Mohegan Sun arena in Wilkes-Barre.

June 19, 1901 - First College Graduates
The first four graduates of St. Thomas College’s college department received their Bachelor of Science degrees at the 1901 Commencement ceremony. The College lacked a state charter and thus could not grant official degrees, so the Christian Brothers arranged for an affiliation with Rock Hill College in Maryland, which awarded the degrees. Until 1925, all St. Thomas College degrees were awarded either by Rock Hill, La Salle College in Philadelphia, or St. John’s College in Washington, D.C.

June 21, 1925 - First Degrees Awarded 

coverWith a newly amended charter, St. Thomas College was finally granted the authority to award collegiate degrees: Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, and Master of Arts. In June 1925, 34 students received the first baccalaureate diplomas bearing the seal of St. Thomas College. Click here for souvenir pamphlet.

Summer 1938 - Travel Courses
In the summer of 1938, Professor Alexander Goulet organized the University of Scranton’s first credit-bearing travel course, a tour of France for French language students. The six-week, six-credit trip included stops in Paris, Marseille, and Normandy, with tuition, transportation, and meals all included in the $400 course fee. The members of the French Club, Le Cercle Français, held a raffle to raise funds for the voyage.

June 24, 1942 - Jesuits Arrive jesuitsIn June 1942, at the invitation of Most Reverend William Hafey, D. D., Rev. W. Coleman Nevils, S.J. and Rev. Ferdinand Wheeler, S.J., traveled to Scranton by train from Boston. The first of 19 Jesuits to arrive in Scranton, they dined with the Bishop and visited the Estate. When the Jesuits assumed formal control on Tuesday, July 7, 1942, the University of Scranton became the twenty-fourth Jesuit college in the United States. 

June 1948 - The Windhover

While St. Thomas College students had printed their first yearbook as early as 1916, yearbook publication was irregular during the early days of the University. Even the name of the yearbook changed several times: from the Aquinas (1916-1925) to Vision (1927-1928) to Purple (1936) to Labarum (1939-1940).


In 1948, the name Windhover was chosen, in reference to "The Windhover," a 1918 poem by Gerald Manley Hopkins, S.J. (1844-1889). As the 1948 yearbook staff wrote, "We feel that the word, Windhover, is symbolic because 

of the habits of this bird. More commonly known is the falcon, it is famous for loyalty to the master who trained it. We believe that, like the falcon, we have been trained and as we fare forth, it is with the hope that we may return to our trainer, Alma Mater, at least in spirit,through the pages of this Year Book."

The Windhover has been published regularly ever since. 

June 7, 1953 - Honorary Degrees
The University awarded its first honorary degrees at the 1953 Commencement exercises. The recipients of honorary Doctor of Laws degrees were Worthington W. Scranton, Atty. Michael J. Martin, Thomas Kennedy, and Atty. George A. Brooks, who delivered the commencement address. Bishop William J. Hafey received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

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