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Doin' my academic duty

Commencement ceremony today. I was told to be here by 8 AM, and I overestimated the traffic, so I was here about 7:30. Around 8:30 the people from the bookstore, which provides faculty academic robes, showed up; my order had been misplaced, so I hadn't gotten my gown a week ago and got a hand-me-down today (for today only, I have an MBA from Fordham University). Stood around for a while, marched in a procession, stood for fifteen minutes while other people marched in a procession, sat down, stood up again for the benediction and national anthem, sat down to hear various dignitaries say the same things they say every year (although, mercifully, we seem to have been spared Senator Schumer's oft-repeated story about "the girl or the scholarship"), and then, around 11:00, they started reading students' names as they walked across the stage and shook hands. The organizers have streamlined things as much as possible, subject to the sequentializing constraint that the President has to shake hands with every graduate, but it takes a while at two seconds per student. An hour so far....

Ten years ago, we used to hold Commencement ceremonies on our own campus. After the speeches, the President would declare everyone graduated, after which things were parallelized: each academic unit (e.g. Education, Nursing, Arts & Sciences, Business) went to a different spot on campus to call individual students' names, together with any special academic honors that student had earned. I could easily mingle with students and their families over drinks and snacks in a verdant, floral setting, and it felt friendly and informal. For the past few years, we've been in a hockey stadium surrounded by acres of parking lots, and there is no place to mingle.


So who, exactly, benefits from the change?
The President of the University, evidently--shaking every graduating student's hand is good PR :->
Well, one benefit is that the whole ceremony is indoors, so we're less vulnerable to inclement weather. OTOH, campus is really pretty in May, and the Coliseum is really ugly at any time of year.

my [academic gown] order had been misplaced, so I hadn't gotten my gown a week ago and got a hand-me-down today (for today only, I have an MBA from Fordham University)....

Yanno, if you had bought a robe and hood when you started working, it would have paid for itself by now... :->

Edited at 2010-05-18 07:18 pm (UTC)

I have my dad's... though, since he in fact *stopped* teaching about when he got it, I'm not sure how much use it ever got... (He'd taught ABD at Berkeley for a few years. Defended his thesis in heat engineering, took the train to Washington that night - and turned into a biomedical engineer, which was a new field at the time.)

Anyone with a PhD in ME from IIT, looking for a gown and hood?
Yes, it would. Tell that to the University, which is paying to rent one for me every year.

A few years ago, they instituted a policy that when anybody gets tenure, they buy him/her an academic robe (on the theory that the newly tenured professor is likely to be there long enough that buying the robe pays off). Unfortunately that policy isn't retroactive to people who got tenure a few years earlier.
You mean, if you had showed up in 1994 with a bespoke robe (in a nice tropical-weight wool, for comfort's sake), the Administration would have said, "Tough noogies! You'll wear a stifling polyester robe like everyone and like it!"?

Talk about Cruel and Unusual....
No, they'd be perfectly happy to not rent a polyester robe for me if I had my own.