Please enable Java in your browser's "Options" (or "Preferance") menu to view this page Concordia's Thursday Report____________June 10, 1999

3,011 graduates take the stage at convocation

by Barbara Black

Look carefully. As they cross the stage to accept their diplomas, you’ll see each student murmur his or her name to the member of the faculty behind the microphone, so that it gets pronounced correctly.

It’s just one of those little tricks the organizers of convocation have developed to make things run smoothly. Convocation – there are five ceremonies in the spring and two in the fall – is a big, big show, and its impresarios are a small group of employees, mainly in the Office of the Registrar.

Convocation is a dignified occasion, with academic gowns designed in the Middle Ages and grave modes of address that always impress the graduates and their families. A brass ensemble plays a fanfare, and continues playing as the graduates enter the hall in procession, taking as long as 20 minutes to be seated.

It’s the air of solemnity, in fact, that makes the occasional outbreaks of exuberance so startling, like the time a graduate sailed across the stage of Place des Arts on a skateboard.

"A few years ago, a graduate proposed marriage from the stage," said one longtime organizer. "He had a big sign under his gown – he had arranged it with us in advance. Another time, though, a guy took over the mike, so now it’s shut off."

Although noisy demonstrations are discouraged, mainly because of time constraints, there are always some half-muffled cries of recognition and support for individual graduates. Few parents, however, react as strongly as one woman sitting in a loge who suddenly leapt to her feet at her daughter’s name, waving her arms and shouting "Glory, glory! Praise the Lord!"

Many people remember the convocations at Loyola, when parents, faculty and graduates mingled on the lawn in the spring sunshine. The organizers have different memories – of an outdoor convocation washed out by rain, and the disappointment and anger it caused.

"The next year we decided to hold it in the hockey arena," one organizer said. "To save time, we divided the procession in half, but when I took one line of students in, we hit a locked door." Even after they’d solved that problem, they had another one: temperature. "It was June, so everybody was sweltering, except for their feet, which were freezing because of the icing mechanism under the arena floor."

Now, convocations are usually held at Place des Arts, either in the big Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier or the smaller Théâtre Maisonneuve. Some Fine Arts convocations have been held in the Concordia Concert Hall.

Despite the meticulous planning and the staggering numbers they must deal with, the Office of the Registrar employees plunge into it every year with the gusto of Broadway producers.

"It’s the greatest function of the year," declared one longtime organizer. "It’s so much fun. I’m really proud of being part of it."

Convocation 1999

Place des Arts

Faculty of Commerce and Administration

Thursday, June 10, 10 a.m.

Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier

Peter Munk, Charles-Albert Poissant

Faculty of Arts and Science

Friday, June 11, 9:30 a.m.

Salle Wilfrid Pelletier

Annie Proulx, Dr. James Carey

Friday, June 11, 2:30 p.m.

Hon. J. Edward Broadbent, Dr. Robert Wall

Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science

Tuesday, June 15, 10 a.m.

Théâtre Maisonneuve

Charles Sirois

Faculty of Fine Arts

Tuesday, June 15, 2 p.m.

Théâtre Maisonneuve

Copyright 1999 Concordia's Thursday Report.