The walk down the Hill that wasn’t

Posted on Jun 16, 2016 in Alumni News and News

KU class of 1972 Commencement in Allen Field House  |  Photo by Hank Young, Kansas Alumni magazine
For most Jayhawks, the walk down the Hill is synonymous with Commencement. But for alumni of the class of 1972—and a handful of other classes throughout KU history—the much-anticipated walk wasn’t to be.

Barbara Schmidt, j’72, explains in an email she sent in response to the May member e-newsletter, which included a link to our annual Commencement video.

Thank you for including in your email newsletter a link to video of the “walk down the hill” of 2016 graduating students. It is always joyful to see that annual walk!

Each year when I see news of the latest KU commencement, I am reminded that my graduating class of 1972 was not allowed to “walk down the hill.” The threat of tornadoes that day caused the University to move our commencement ceremony to Allen Fieldhouse and imposed a subdued atmosphere on the event that probably made it unlike just about any other commencement in KU history. No tornadoes developed in the area, and I do not recall it as being anything other than a cloudy day in the end.

Still, commencement was not “complete” for the class of 1972. Walking down the hill that day was something I had dreamed of since a little child, and I know that most of my friends felt the same way.

I have often wondered if some day the Alumni Association might remember and help make amends for this omission by arranging for surviving graduates of the class of 1972 to process down the hill before the current graduating class (maybe wearing a special ’72 cap designed for the occasion). Perhaps for our 50th anniversary in 2022?

If planned and announced to 1972 alums at least a couple years in advance, I believe a large enough contingent of my classmates would participate to make this uniquely memorable not only for them but also for the class of 2022 and everyone else in attendance.

Thank you, Alumni Association, for all that you do.

Barbara L. Schmidt
Seattle, WA
Class of 1972 (Journalism)


A total of 4,257 students received degrees at the University’s 100th Commencement in 1972, making it the largest in history at the time. According to the June 1972 issue of Kansas Alumni magazine, the Monday evening ceremony for presentation of baccalaureate degrees in the eight undergraduate schools was held in Allen Field House, only the third time that commencement events had been forced inside because of weather.

So, members of the class of ’72, what do you think: would you return to the nest for a 50-year reunion and commemorative walk down the Hill? Email us at and let us know.

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