May 1, 1912: First Convocation
May 1, 1912 marked the first convocation at the University of Saskatchewan, with seven students comprising the first graduating class. Those students—our first Rhodes Scholar, two women, twin brothers, a student born in Ireland, and a Saskatchewan-born-and-raised student—studied English, classics, agriculture and history.
Three students from this class (including both women) earned graduation honours: Mary Oliver, high honours in classics and the Copland Scholarship, Marion Pettit, honours in English and history, and Rhodes Scholar David Hossie, honours in Latin and English.
From its beginning, the U of S intended for women to have access to higher education, with the University Act stating “no woman shall by reason of her sex be deprived of any advantage or privilege accorded to male students of the university.”
Oliver was the top student that year and possibly would’ve been considered for the Rhodes Scholarship. Unfortunately, the Rhodes Scholarship remained unavailable to women until 1976.
While eight students are featured in the photo, one student did not graduate. The life of William Exton Lloyd is a bit of a mystery. Exton took the first exam ever given at the U of S, he was a member of the first U of S track and field team, and was a member of the original Graduation Year Book Board. While he appears in this convocation photo, he did not actually graduate from the U of S.