The Norlin Charge

The Norlin Charge to the Graduates

The first commencement at the University of Colorado was held for six graduates on June 8, 1882, in the chapel of Old Main. It was not until 40 years later, on September 4, 1922, that the first summer commencement was held. Since the first commencement in 1882, 311,107 degrees have been awarded by the University of Colorado at Boulder. The traditional Norlin Charge to the graduates was read by the late President George Norlin to the June 1935 graduating class.Photo of George Norlin

“You are now certified to the world at large as alumni of the university. She is your kindly mother and you her cherished sons and daughters.

This exercise denotes not your severance from her, but your union with her. Commencement does not mean, as many wrongly think, the breaking of ties and the beginning of life apart. Rather, it marks your initiation in the fullest sense into the fellowship of the university, as bearers of her torch, as centers of her influence, as promoters of her spirit.

The university is not the campus, not the buildings on the campus, not the faculties, not the students of any one time — not one of these or all of them. The university consists of all who come into and go forth from her halls, who are touched by her influence and who carry on her spirit. Wherever you go, the university goes with you. Wherever you are at work, there is the university at work.

What the university purposes to be, what it must always strive to be, is represented on its seal, which is stamped on your diplomas — a lamp in the hands of youth. If its light shines not in you and from you, how great is its darkness! But if it shines in you today, and in the thousands before you, who can measure its power?

With hope and faith, I welcome you into the fellowship. I bid you farewell only in the sense that I pray you may fare well. You go forth but not from us. We remain but not severed from you. God go with you and be with you and us.”