The foundation of the University of Glasgow in 1451 is celebrated each year on Commemoration Day.
The events comprise of a service for the Commemoration of Benefactors in the University Chapel; the conferring of honorary degrees by the Chancellor; and the Commemoration Day lunch. The current form of celebrations has been followed for over a century but its roots go back to the annual May banquet held first in 1492 at which was born the toast "Resurgat in Gloria Alma Mater".
Commemoration became an official event in the late seventeenth century. The Commissioners of Visitation of 1690 (a quality inspection of its time) appointed "that at all yearlie laureations... there be honourable mention made of the founders and benefactors by publick recitall". This was observed and the act of commemoration took place at the close of the annual graduation ceremony.
In 1903, the General Council urged an annual Commemoration day on the day following the annual graduation, "in order to maintain the connection of the graduates with their University". The first was held in April 1904 and the programme of events remained constant, with a few minor alterations, throughout the century. The date of Commemoration moved to June and separate from the ordinary graduations in 1924.
COMMEMORATION OF BENEFACTORS
It is our bounden duty to commemorate thankfully before Almighty God all those our benefactors by whose liberality this College and University has maintained the studies of godliness and sound learning.
Before all, we remember our Founder, William Turnbull, Bishop of Glasgow, and James the Second, King of Scots, at whose instance a University was constituted in Glasgow and invested by Pope Nicholas the Fifth with all the liberties, immunities, and privileges appertaining to the University of Bologna.
We remember the benefits conferred upon the University by successive bearers of the rule and government of this realm, and especially by Mary, Queen of Scots; King James VI; King Charles I; Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector; King Charles II; King William III; Queen Anne; King George I; King George III; King William IV; and Queen Victoria.
And we remember also the care bestowed by the Magistrates and Town Council of the City and Royal Burgh of Glasgow upon the preservation of the University in times of civil warfare and commotion.
We render thanks for others our benefactors, such as were James, 1st Lord Hamilton, who gave land for the building of a College, and Thomas Arthurlie, chaplain, who added ground thereto; Robert Blackadder, James Beaton, and Gavin Dunbar, successive Archbishops of Glasgow; David Cadzow, Canon of Glasgow; Archibald Calderwood, Vicar of Maybole; Andrew Melville, Principal of the College; Thomas Crauford of Jordanhill; Michael Wilson of Eastbourne; Thomas Hutcheson of Lambhill, merchant in Glasgow; Zachary Boyd, Minister of the Barony of Glasgow; John Howieson, Minister of Cambuslang; William, 1st Earl of Stirling; James, 1st Marquess of Montrose; James, 1st Duke of Hamilton; Elizabeth, Countess of Nithsdale; Patrick Gillespie and Robert Baillie, successive Principals of the College; William, 1st Earl of Dundonald; John Snell; John Orr of Barrowfield; Anne, Duchess of Hamilton; Robina, Countess of Forfar; Robert Leighton, Archbishop of Glasgow; James, 1st Duke of Chandos; Hugh Boulter, Archbishop of Armagh; Alexander Macfarlane, merchant in Jamaica; William Hunter, Doctor of Medicine; and Robert Hamilton.
We recall gratefully the many gifts bestowed upon us in later days, remembering John, 3rd Marquess of Bute; Charles Randolph; Andrew Carnegie; William, 1st Viscount Weir of Eastwood; Mary Gibb Dunlop; George MacFeat; John Burrell Talbot-Crosbie; William Stewart; Robert Wylie; Robert Clark; Thomas Menzies Burton and Helen Galbraith Burton; James Stedman Dixon; Isabella Elder; William Jacks; Daniel Macaulay Stevenson; John Traill Cargill; David William Traill Cargill; Frederick Crombie Gardiner; William Guthrie Gardiner; Henry Mechan; David Johnstone Smith; Gavin Paterson Tennent; John Brown Douglas; John Ritchie Richmond; James Crawford and Isadore Aaron Walton, founders of Professorships; Joseph, 1st Baron Maclay; Laurence MacBrayne; John MacKellar Robertson; William Woodhouse Strain and Isaac Wolfson, founders of Halls of Residence; benefactors of the University Library such as were William Euing, David Murray, John Stirling Maxwell and Denis William Brogan; the Merchants' House of Glasgow; the Trades House of Glasgow; the Trustees of the Bellahouston Bequest; the Archdiocese of Glasgow; the Ian Mactaggart Trust; the Robertson Trust; the General Accident Corporation; Thomas Ferguson; Alec Lawrence Macfie, Alexander Stone; David Barclay and Frederick Barclay; Anatole Dekaban; William R Lindsay; Leonard Gordon Wolfson; the British Heart Foundation; the Dorset Foundation; the Home of Rest for Horses; the Weston Foundation; the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation; the Gannochy Trust; Brian Souter; Joyce Gladys Minton; James Spittal; the Walton Foundation; the Wellcome Trust; Mary Andrew; Ralph William Pickford; Alexander Black; William Iain MacKechnie; Dr James H McKay; Foundation for Children with Leukaemia; Eleanor Emery; Ian Sword; Mr and Mrs Malcolm and Margaret Howat; Dr William Patterson and Sarah Patterson; Melville George Tuck and Sheila Murdoch Tuck; Harry Ward Gardner and Georgina Dickson Gardner; Douglas Maurice MacDowell; Miriam and Angus Mitchell; The Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation; Gething Morgan Lewis; Alexander Fairley; The Sackler Trust, Santander Universities, Santander UK plc, James Andrew Robertson (Fund), Lt Commander John Hamilton RN; Garfield Weston Foundation; Bill and Margaret Nicol Charitable Trust and all others who have endowed the studies of the University and the common life of her members.
Especially we remember with humble and thankful hearts those of two generations whose names are written on these walls who gave the strength of their youth and all the promise of their days to defend our freedom. These have made our inheritance.
For all who of their goodwill in time past have thus enriched the University; for all who by their devotion to true learning have increased her fame and usefulness, and have kept her light shining before men; for all her sons and daughters who have gone out from this place to fulfil in the world the work for which they were here prepared; for all who love our ancient House and seek her good, let us now bless and praise Almighty God.
Commemoration Day 2017
In 2016, Commemoration Day was held on Wednesday 15th June.
Find out more information about Honorary Graduands at this year's commemoration day.