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Torchlight Ceremony

The torchlight ceremony is one of Colgate’s time-honored traditions.

About the Ceremony

The Torchlight Ceremony was started by Frank M. Williams, Class of 1895 and president of the Alumni Corporation, and Bernard P. Taylor, Class of 1924 and secretary of the college. The first ceremony took place on June 6, 1930. On the eve of commencement, graduating seniors descend the hill from Memorial Chapel to the lower campus, carrying torches (an emblem on the Colgate seal) to represent the light of knowledge they have gained at the university. The event was inspired by similar traditions at several northeastern colleges and has been a part of nearly every Colgate commencement to the present day.

Since that time, the Torchlight Ceremony has come to bookmark the Colgate experience for all students, beginning when the first-year class processes up the hill to the chapel for Founder’s Day Convocation. In addition, a torchlight procession has been part of Homecoming and the Konosioni Senior Honor Society induction ceremony, and alumni also enjoy reprising the tradition at reunions.