From Martha Mitchell’s Encyclopedia Brunoniana:
The Baccalaureate sermon is traditionally preached on the Sunday preceding Commencement. Rev. Morgan Edwards may be said to have delivered the first baccalaureate sermon when he preached to the graduates in the evening of the first Commencement day in 1769. President Caswell was asked to deliver a baccalaureate sermon by the Class of 1872, the class which was entering college when he assumed the presidency and was leaving as he retired. It was customary for the president to deliver the baccalaureate sermon until Henry Wriston, the first president who was not a Baptist minister, assumed office. After that, guest preachers were invited. In February 1944, when a winter commencement was held during wartime without the usual ceremony, Mr. Wriston delivered a baccalaureate address at the request of the graduates. He continued to deliver the address at the following wartime commencements. In 1988 another president, Howard Swearer, was the baccalaureate speaker at the last exercises before leaving the presidency.
The above entry appears in Encyclopedia Brunoniana by Martha Mitchell, copyright ©1993 by the Brown University Library. It is used here by permission of the author and the University and may not be copied or further distributed without permission.