Friday, February 10, 2012

Graduation consolidation

The DE has an article on the new commencement scheme which, following other campus trends, moves us toward centralization. The DE also prints a rather impassioned letter from a student in the College of Agriculture who isn't happy about the change. Rather than college level graduation ceremonies, we'll have clusters of colleges: Liberal Arts & Mass Comm; Agriculture, Applies Sciences, Engineering, and Science; and Business, Education, and Law. There will also be no August graduation, with summer graduates being allowed to walk six credits early in May. The Chancellor's email announcing the change is pasted at the end of this post.

As the letter writer notes, the downside of this change is that individual college traditions will be lost--despite the Chancellor's protestations to the contrary. While colleges will still be allowed to hold their own, additional ceremonies should they so choose, such ceremonies obviously risk rather low attendance, as not that many students, parents, or faculty are going to want to sit through a second ceremony--especially as the first one will now be rather longer. A decision not to outlaw separate ceremonies (which would be a rather extreme step even for this centralizing crew) isn't exactly the most robust form of upholding old traditions.

The advantage is that fewer ceremonies may produce a grander effect, more "pomp and circumstance" as CoLA Dean Kimberly Leonard is quoted as saying.  Graduates will now get to march in the robe parade together with faculty et al, for example, which is a nice touch, making them more actors and less audience.  Of course this innovation doesn't require centralization. At any rate, we'll have to wait and see whether fewer ceremonies are better than more.