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Dr. Sinatra and Other Memorable Moments from Commencement

Dig deep into UNLV history to see how the moment every student is waiting for has evolved throughout the years, from the first class of 1964 to our most recent grads in spring 2016.

UNLV History  |  Dec 13, 2016  |  By UNLV News Center

The Chairman of the Mortarboard. (UNLV Special Collections)

Before UNLV was UNLV, when it was still Nevada Southern, the first graduating class in 1964 was 29 students. The school has come a long way in the last five decades. From that first class in the early '60s through honors for Frank Sinatra, Guy Fieri and Jimmy Kimmel, get your fill of pomp and circumstance through the years in this look back at UNLV commencement history.

Nevada Gov. Grant Sawyer addresses the first graduating class at commencement in 1964, when UNLV was known as Nevada Southern University. 29 students graduated at the first commencement ceremony. (UNLV Special Collections)

Nevada Southern University's first commencement on June 3, 1964. Robert Griffith was named a Distinguished Nevadan. From left: Chairman of the Board of Regents Archie Grant; University of Nevada, Reno President Charles Armstrong; Robert Griffith; and University Marshall Dr. Dandini. (UNLV Special Collections)

Nevada Southern University's second graduation ceremony in 1965 was held in the gym, which is now the UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum. (UNLV Special Collections)

Frank Sinatra receives an honorary doctorate from UNLV President Donald Baepler during the 1976 commencement. (UNLV Special Collections)

UNLV's 1977 commencement held inside the Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts. (UNLV Special Collections)

The 25th commencement ceremony in 1983 was held at the Riviera Casino & Hotel. (UNLV Photo Services)

UNLV President Neal Smatresk with Ronnie Vannucci, drummer for The Killers, who graduated on May 14, 2011. (Geri Kodey/UNLV Photo Services)

The Thomas & Mack Center before the start of the commencement on May 12, 2012. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Photo Services)

Emily Black, representing entertainment engineering's first graduating class, flies over the crowd during the ceremony on May 12, 2012. (Aaron Mayes/UNLV Photo Services)

Celebrity chef and alumnus Guy Fieri, '90 BS Hotel Administration, received an honorary doctorate at the Dec. 18, 2012, winter commencement ceremony. (Aaron Mayes/UNLV Photo Services)

Watch commencement Spring 2013 come and go in this time-lapse video of the event. 

Jimmy Kimmel was only a student at UNLV from 1985-86, but he finally got his degree in 2013—an honorary doctorate. Kimmel said he worked harder on his speech than he did at any of the homework he had at UNLV. 

Grads crowd together during the Spring 2015 ceremony at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Get inside the Thomas & Mack with this recap of Spring 2015 commencement.