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June 7, 2001 Five convocations in two days for 3,307 graduates




Audrey Nanot

Audrey Nanot, a student from France, celebrates her MA in English.

Photo by Christian Fleury

by Barbara Black

Five Concordia graduation ceremonies will take place over two days next week at the Molson Centre.

That means that Rector Frederick Lowy and Chancellor Eric Molson will have to have the stamina of the Energizer bunny, as they cap the shoulders and shake the hands of some 3,307 graduating students, morning, noon and night, and so will the onstage dignitaries and backstage organizers.

The ceremonies are always fairly long because of the large numbers of graduates, but organizers are loath to shorten them, because they are so fulfilling to the graduates and their families. Anyone who has attended these marathon ceremonies can attest that for many families, convocation is a real milestone. They sit through the procession of the platform party, the entrance of the graduates, the speeches of the dignitaries and the individual “capping” of the graduating students with rapt attention.

Bill Raso, who organizes convocation ceremonies from his post as office support supervisor in the Office of the Registrar, wouldn’t have it any other way. He loves the pomp and circumstance, and he loves making a contribution.

So does Assistant Registrar Linda Healey, who is especially pleased with the positive reaction from graduates and their families to the unlimited seating policy that the cavernous Molson Centre permits.

Healey also was able to explain the hectic schedule. It costs $27,000 a day to hold convocation at the Molson Centre (although the fee is negotiated anew each year); the average cost per ceremony is $9,000.

Compare that with Place des Arts, where the cost for six ceremonies, including the one in the fall, was $35,000. This is the second year Concordia has used the Molson Centre, because Place des Arts has been plagued by a labour dispute.

“Last year, we shared expenses with McGill,” Healey noted, “but this year we are on our own, since McGill is using other venues, one of them being their own refurbished field-house.”

The ceremonies start Monday, June 11 at 1:30 p.m. with the first of two Faculty of Arts and Science convocations. That evening at 7 p.m., it’s the turn of the John Molson School of Business.

The next morning at 10 a.m. is the second Arts and Science convocation. At 3 o’clock, Fine Arts holds its ceremony, and that evening at 7 p.m., it’s the turn of the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science.

Two Faculties will have more graduating students than ever before: 837 (an increase of 100) in the John Molson School of Business, and 526 (an increase of 135) in Engineering and Computer Science.

There are 1,600 graduating students in the Faculty of Arts and Science and 344 in Fine Arts, both nearly the same number as graduated last spring.

The two Arts and Science ceremonies have a new configuration based on academic department. As a result, graduates will be able to sit with others who have taken similar programs, and it is hoped they will receive their degrees from their department chairs.