‘Graduation Through the Decades’ now on display in Heritage Room

Apr 28, 2022

The Heritage Room in Sacred Heart Hall is currently showcasing a fitting end-of-year display: “Graduation Through the Decades.”

A dive into the past

“The biggest event we have at the end of the school year is graduation, so it seemed like a natural thing to highlight in the exhibit,” said volunteer Shirley Rueb, a 1970 alumna-turned employee. “As registrar, I chaired the Newman commencement committee for a number of years so the graduation ceremony was one that I was very familiar with.”

Shirley Rueb and Father Tom Welk at Rueb's 50th year retirement celebration.
Shirley Rueb and Father Tom Welk at Rueb’s retirement celebration.

Rueb believes each of the more than 30 items in the display holds its own significance.

“We have the first graduation class from Sacred Heart Junior College in 1935, the baccalaureate and commencement programs from the first Sacred Heart College graduations, the first from Kansas Newman College and the first from Newman University,” Rueb said. 

Artifacts range from academic hoods, tassels and honor cords to commencement programs, newspaper clippings and photos.

“There is also a program from our only virtual graduation,” she added. 

It takes a team

Although Rueb assembled most of the information, the Heritage Room display was a multi-person effort.

“Steve Hamersky, assistant professor and director of library services, and his student assistant, Allison Williams, were incredibly helpful in actually creating the display,” Rueb said. “Director of Annual Giving Laura Hartley and Associate Registrar Christine Werth provided most of the academic apparel for the display.”

Hammersky said he was pleasantly surprised to see the photo from the first graduation with all the ASC sisters, dressed in “their old style habits.”

ASC Sisters from the first graduating class of Sacred Heart Junior College in 1935.
ASC sisters from the first graduating class of Sacred Heart Junior College in 1935.

“I think the display shows the history of what all Newman employees strive to help our students achieve,” Hammersky said.

Past and present collide

“Graduation through the Decades” also carries special sentiment for Williams, who is set to graduate from Newman May 6 as a double major in criminal justice and psychology.

“It gives me a better feel of connectedness with the prior graduates,” Williams explained. “Even though I don’t know any of them, besides graduates from the past four years, it gives me a sense of community with these people I’ve never met, knowing that we all walked Newman’s halls and graduated from here.”

Allison Williams
Allison Williams

Whether individuals view the display through the eyes of soon-to-be graduates or not, Williams encourages guests of Newman to stop by and take a look.

“There’s going to be at least one thing that’s going to surprise you or catch your eye,” she said.

The Heritage Room is located on the main floor of Sacred Heart Hall. All are welcome to peruse “Graduation through the Decades” when they visit campus.