Bill Raso has been thinking so hard about the convocation ceremony coming up on November 18 that he's even dreaming about it. "I wake up in the middle of the night thinking of tiny details," he said.
Raso, Assistant Registrar Bruce Mackenzie and the others in the Office of the Registrar who organize convocation had to find a new venue for the massive ceremony because of the Place des Arts technicians' strike, which started early last summer.
They looked at churches and theatres, and finally settled on the Palais des Congr¸s, on St. Antoine St. It's a huge place, big enough to give each graduate five guest tickets instead of the customary four. However, it has meant a lot of added time and expense for the organizers.
"Essentially, we've rented an empty shell," Raso explained. "All the details which were part of the package at Place des Arts -- the stage, the seats, the sound, the lighting, the decor -- have to be done separately. The seats are all on one level, so to enable everybody to see the proceedings, we've got two big screens on the stage."
A virtue is being made of necessity. There will be extra plants to soften the cavernous interior. New Concordia banners will wrap the concrete pillars. The brass quintet has swelled to a sextet. The FACE Junior Treble Choir, potential graduates of the future, will sing O Canada and be presented with pins to commemorate the university's 25th anniversary.
"We want to make the graduates and their families feel at least as special as they do at Place des Arts," Raso said.
That devotion to tradition and hospitality comes at a price -- nearly twice what it normally costs to stage convocation -- but other universities are in the same boat. McGill University held their fall convocation, including the installation of the new chancellor, Richard Pound, at Molson Centre last week.
Guests should use the Place d'Armes mˇtro station to reach the Palais des Congr¸s. Parking is also available. The ceremony is on Niveau 1, Salle B, beginning at 10:30 a.m.
The luncheon for honorary degree recipients and other dignitaries will be held after the ceremony at the Musˇe d'Art Contemporain, as usual.
Two honorary doctorates to be presented
Writer, actor and director Robert Lepage is the best-known Canadian theatre wizard in the world.
An extraordinarily versatile and original artist, he may conceive a play in rehearsal, hone it in production, write it in three or more languages, produce it with dazzling technical effects and then take a leading role.
Born in Quebec City in 1957, he steadily rose to fame with solo productions Vinci (1985) and Needles and Opium (1991), and the international theatrical successes The Polygraph, Tectonic Plates, and La Trilogie des dragons. He has mounted Shakespearean plays, opera and a major rock concert, and has made several films.
The Hon. Lise Thibault
Widely admired for her warmth and intelligence, Mme Lise Thibault was named Lieutenant-Governor in Quebec in 1997, the first woman to be so honoured. The appointment capped a distinguished career of involvement in Quebec's artistic, educational and political milieux.
She began her activism as a parent volunteer on school committees, then became active in the 1980 referendum campaign, and ran in several elections as a Liberal Party candidate.
Mme Thibault wrote several volumes of De Belles et bonnes choses, and four books on the Gobelin tapestries.