Since I posted “The Graduate…Or the Graduate Student?” I have found yet another reference to Ursula’s being a “senior” in 1924, so I am going to take a leap and assume she graduated from UC Berkeley that year, and not in 1923.
Commencement took place on May 14, 1924 in the new Memorial Stadium, which was dedicated the previous November. This was the first time in 21 years that graduation exercises were not held in the Greek Theater, the striking scene of some of the dramas in which Ursula acted, sang and danced.
According to the Oakland Tribune (May 14, 1924), a record-breaking crowd estimated at more than 20,000 people witnessed the conferring of degrees upon the 1,227 members of the graduating class of 1924, and 923 candidates for higher degrees.
The ceremony kicked off with the processional march of the university orchestra, which then played the national anthem. The audience and candidates bowed their heads for the invocation, and then sang “America” (“My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”). During the song’s last strains, the first student speaker, Marion Janet Harron, stepped to the podium.
Ms. Harron told her classmates that ideals should count more than monetary values, saying “False gods of the market place lower the moral currency of the nation…They make democratic government despisable with undemocratic graft.” (Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, eh?!)
Her fellow speaker, Jack Lisgar Merrill, communicated a more upbeat message, urging the graduating seniors to take up the goal of using “such talents and such skill as we have for the betterment of those about us and to exemplify by our conduct and in our ambitions the ideal of service.”
What will Ursula do after graduation? Where will she go? How will she use her talents? Stay tuned—we’ll find out in the next “Mystery Dancer” post…