3,011 graduates take the stage at convocation
by Barbara Black
Look carefully. As they cross the stage to accept their diplomas, youll see each student murmur his or her name to the member of the faculty behind the microphone, so that it gets pronounced correctly.
Its 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.
Its 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 its 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 daughters 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 theyd 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.
"Its the greatest function of the year," declared one longtime organizer. "Its so much fun. Im really proud of being part of it."
Place des Arts
Faculty of Commerce and Administration
Thursday, June 10, 10 a.m.
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.
Faculty of Fine Arts
Tuesday, June 15, 2 p.m.