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Documenting Pitt:
Honors Convocation Programs

Each year the Pitt community gathers to honor the best and brightest students and faculty.  The history of this formal occasion goes back to about 1930 and was then called the Scholars’ Day Assembly.  The Assembly issued the Book of the Scholars which listed the students who earned membership in honorary societies as well as academic awards and scholarships. 

Concurrent with Scholars’ Day was another event called Tap Day which honored students for their leadership in extracurricular activities.  Tap Day, so called because it “tapped” students for leadership positions, gave recognition for leadership in service and social fraternities and awards for volunteers in University activities. Tap Day honorees were reported out in the Pitt News and the various societies had posters of their honorees on display in the Student Union.  Both of these events were celebrated annually from the early 1930’s through the late 1950’s. 

The first Honors Convocation was held in 1958 and it continued annually until 1966.  In early 1967 the Chancellor announced that the Honors Convocation was cancelled for that year and no other one was held for the ten years that followed.  Tap Day continued through the 1960’s and its proceedings began to include some of the awards that were previously given during the Honors Convocation. 

In 1977, Chancellor Posvar called for a new Honors Convocation to be established that would supersede all the similar events that came before.  In its present form this convocation honors the University Scholars (those attaining the top two percent in cumulative academic standing by school), Student Academic Awards, Teaching Fellowships, Student Leadership Awards and Faculty Awards. The honorees are listed in the Honors Convocation Programs.

Documenting Pitt contains the Book of the Scholars from the Scholars’ Day Assembly for 1932, 1934-1957, the Honors Convocation Programs for 1963, 1966, 1977-2008 and the Tap Day Program for 1976.