Getting the graduation ceremonies ready at Fanshawe and Western

London, ON, Canada / 106.9 The X
Getting the graduation ceremonies ready at Fanshawe and Western

As the end of the school year inches closer to us, both Fanshawe College and Western University are getting the graduations ready to mark the major mile stone in most of our lives. Some may think it comes together in a month or so although; graduations are basically a year in the making.

Western University Secretary, Irene Birrell, says the prepping is already well underway.

“We start to make sure we have  a sufficient amount of robes for faculty, we start to send out notices for volunteers to be ushers, announcers or for all of the various roles that go in to it. If you think about it, convocation is like a big stage production. It runs for two weeks, to full houses, every day.

Quick Numbers:

  • The gym that Western’s ceremonies take place in can hold 2000 people.
  • Each faculty can have a class of up to 600 graduates.
  • Western tries to give each graduates four spots for family to attend.

Birrell notes they have to keep in mind that faculties also like to have ceremonies before or after the graduations.

“There’s dinners for honorary degree recipients. Also, each faculty has its own ceremonies and events for the students graduating from that area. They’re held either right before or after the graduation.”

Associate Registrar Susan Dobson tells us some of things Fanshawe does to prepare for the graduations:

Finding the speaker for graduations:

Finding speakers for the graduations ceremonies is quite the task too. Birrell says it could take up to a year to narrow down a list of potential speakers. The speakers receive an honorary degree.

“Committees put together a long list of potential honorary degree recipients who might receive one at the ceremonies. From there, I work with the President to bring the list down to one candidate for every ceremony. As you can imagine, the kinds of people who receive an honorary degree are not always available for the time we want them to come. So, we do have backups in case that happens. We also send out the invitations and the President speaks to them personally to issue the invitation.”

Dobson says it’s very similar for Fanshawe except, it’s up the Dean of the programs to pick the speaker.

“They try to make sure they have somebody that will be of good interest to the graduates and their families. Each area picks their own. Some people we try to get aren’t always available. If we know far enough in advance we could tweak the schedule. This doesn’t happen too often since we book the time slots far enough in advance. We’ve had some really awesome speakers since, well, forever. But some really good ones in the last couple of years so it’s been great.”

When it comes to writing up the diplomas, Dobson says it takes quite a while to get them ready.

“Making sure we have every ‘I’ is dotted and ‘t’ is crossed. We need to have a credential for every student. We offer many different credentials so that process takes a while to get ready.”

Birrell says getting the actual diploma after the ceremony is quite the process.

“The registrar staff are sitting at a big long table with all of the diplomas alphabetically. We make sure every student gets their diplomas and it that it’s the right one. This is a big logistical operation.”

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Getting the gowns ready:

With so many students, it could sometimes be hard for the schools to ensure that everyone gets a gown to wear on the day. Birrell says that this process it contracted out to a company. She says it saves money for the University and allows the gowns to be fresher for each individual instead of wearing one that the person used before.

Here are some links that may assist you to ensure your graduation day goes smoothly.

When it comes booking the days. Birrell says the University blocks off the dates almost 5 years in advance and then finalizes the date for the actual graduations about a year or so in advance. Dobson says Fanshawe finalizes the dates about eight months to a year in advance.

Each school also has to work with the staff that is in charge of parking at the school. They say it’s a little challenging as some students are still attending school for the summer.

Dobson has a few things for you to keep in mind so you know what it actually takes to put these ceremonies together.

“We’re planning all year around. We also have ceremonies in the fall. So after the spring ceremonies, we’re working on the fall and so on. There are volunteers, committees and many others that work tirelessly to ensure it’s an enjoyable day for the graduates and their families.”

There are some common things for you to keep track of to ensure you can attend graduation:

  • Check your academic status
  • Confirm your attendance
  • Check your emails for any updates that may concern graduation

In the end, Birrell and Dobson say it’s important that the graduate does their best to enjoy the day. After all, it’s to celebrate your hard work.

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