June 13, 1888
In a departure from tradition, the only decoration in the Chapel as Professor Ritter began the commencement ceremony with his customary organ voluntary was a single floral arrangement in front of the organ. President Taylor gave the invocation, and the assembled trustees, faculty, students, alumnae and guests were offered senior addresses and varied musical selections.
In “An Intellectual Aristocracy,” Eugenia Kountz ’88 praised America’s ability to offer intellectual elevation to its citizens, and she emphasized the importance of an intellectual element in government. Clara Barnum ’88, in “The Nine Heroes of the Seventh Book of the Iliad,” showed how these characters significantly differed and how each represented a certain type found in every age, each type with a unique social function. Speaking on “The Future of the American Newspaper,” Effie Shaw ’88 both recognized the faults of the contemporary press—its disproportionate coverage of the sensational and the low literary quality of much of it—and appreciated its function as “a national court” where “for 5 cents a first-class opinion may be secured on any subject.” The press, she said, “has a loud voice, and without its speaking, evils would be hard to crush.”
President Taylor conferred the baccalaureate degree on 36 members of the Class of 1888, and recognized Margaretta Palmer ’87 as a resident graduate for the coming year. A student of Maria Mitchell’s, Palmer instructed in Latin during her residency, and the following year she became an assistant in the observatory at Yale. In 1892, she was among the first group of women admitted to the Yale Graduate School, and in 1894 she was among the first seven women—and the first woman astronomer—to earn the Yale Ph.D.
In his remarks, President Taylor announced that the Preparatory Department had been discontinued, that the trustees had tendered to Maria Mitchell a home at the college and the free use of the observatory and that he wanted to raise $100,000 for the college by September. The New York Times