By Published: March 1, 2017

Drumm diploma

Drumm Roll, Please

There are more than 250,000 CU Boulder alumni today. For a few moments on a spring day in 1882, there was just one: Henry Alexander Drumm.

When roll was called at the University of Colorado’s first commencement, held at Old Main on June 8 of that year, Drumm’s name came first alphabetically in the class of six, making him, in a sense, the university’s first graduate.

Many years later, his diploma, pictured above, found its way into Norlin Library’s files. Today the original parchment resides in the CU Heritage Center, which occupies the top floor of Old Main, bringing the diploma full circle.

Drumm came from a pioneer family originally from Iowa, and he seems to have had a trailblazer’s taste and energy for trying new things, according to research by Heritage Center curator Mona Lambrecht. In the course of his 79 years, he worked as a barber, newspaper reporter, teacher, legal clerk, real estate and insurance broker, railroad level-man, lawyer and, for decades, mapmaker and publisher.

Raised in Colorado, Drumm also lived in New York City — where he attended Columbia Law School — and Omaha, Neb.

After returning to Colorado for good in the late 1890s, he was elected to the state legislature and served on the Boulder City Council.

Amid all this, he married twice and fathered seven children.

Shortly after that first commencement, in 1882, the class organized an alumni association. Drumm served as founding president.

First among his classmates, Drumm was the last one standing when, on April 17, 1937, he died at home on Grove Street in downtown Boulder. He rests in peace in Green Mountain Cemetery, near Chautauqua Park.

Photo courtesy CU Heritage Center