By Emma Johnson, University of Sussex Special Collections Intern.
It’s that time of year again…another academic year has flown by and the class of 2015 are graduating! Graduation can often be a strange time for students- it’s a time to celebrate their hard work and academic achievements but to also reflect upon their time at university and how it has changed them as a person. The Keep holds an array of documents relating to the University. I have delved into the archive of the University of Sussex to explore the experiences of graduations gone by. In doing so, I came across an interesting speech by John Fulton, then Vice-Chancellor, at the summer graduation of 1967.
Graduation marks the beginning of the cross-road between living a student lifestyle and entering the big wide world as an adult; an exciting and daunting prospect in equal measure. In his speech, the Vice Chancellor perfectly describes this strange transition time. 48 years later, I think his words still ring true for any graduate of Sussex:
One or two general reflections may perhaps be worth recording very briefly while one is poised-as those of us who have graduated today must be-between, on the one hand full, whole-time belonging in the present to one’s University and, on the other, carrying that membership into the wider responsibilities of the world outside.
As well as noting the heightened self-awareness that many students may experience as they contemplate life after university, Fulton also acknowledges the bigger picture; the world is evolving and many new graduates will be entering occupations that have not existed before: ‘the universities must take account of the growing diversity of occupations and of jobs into which graduates ought increasingly to be drawn…those of industry and of new and emerging occupations e.g. communications in all its forms.‘ As technology changes like the weather and social media is becoming more and more instrumental to industries and businesses, students today, as in 1967, may be entering new and exciting professions that have only just come into being.
The graduation of 1967 was the last for John Fulton as Vice-Chancellor, who was succeeded by Asa Briggs. Saying goodbye to the University which he had played such a significant part in developing was clearly difficult for him, but Fulton reflects on his time at Sussex with joy and happiness:
I often think there must be something magical in the air of Sussex or the beauty of Stanmer Park that provides a fruitful soil for ingenious original inventions to spring up between us as we deliberate on our tasks and problems. Together we have started something: I am completely confident that it will flourish. For having been allowed to play a part in it, I feel a pride and gratitude that I do not think I shall ever forget.
And so it has flourished! All graduates from Sussex should be proud of their contribution to the University, and I hope in years to come can remember their time at Sussex with the same fondness as John Fulton. Congratulations to all who are graduating this week and all the best for the future.