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The Sunflower Ceremony

Fresh versus Silk Sunflowers

Sunflower Ceremony 1997The sunflower has endured as an emblem of graduation from the University of Texas School of Law since the turn of the twentieth century.  Yet whether the flowers are made of petals or silk has varied.  Until 1966, fresh flowers were used.  Unfortunately, construction work reduced the number of sunflowers growing around the law school, and the available flowers often wilted before graduates received them.  Administrators switched to artificial blossoms—first only for December ceremonies, then year-round. Occasionally, according to the 1977 Peregrinus, a delivery of fresh, possibly illicit blooms would arrive for the Ceremony.  However, silk flowers were issued to faculty. 

Fresh flowers regained dominance between 1986 and 2005, when former Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Susana Alemán dutifully hunted and gathered fresh blooms for the Sunflower Ceremony.  At present, fresh flowers are issued to both students and faculty.

Sarah Hubert. "Oh, Susana! Assistant Dean of UT School of Law Carries on Sunny Commencement Tradition." On Campus, 6 June 1995, p. 8. (PDF)