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October 2, 1991

                       University Commencement Committee

                                October 2, 1991

                                    Minutes

 

Members present: R. Alls, N. Barclay, J. Beach, J. Comeaux, D. Drapeau, J.

Williams-Green, E. Henneke, L. Hincker, M. Johnson, C. Kennedy, J. Marchman, D.

McKee, S. Musser, C. Nickerson, R. Smith, W. Spear, R. Stith, D. Taylor, T.

Tillar, P. White, Krystal McAnelly (Senior Class rep.)

 

Chair Kennedy called the meeting to order at 12:08 p.m. in 210 Burruss Hall.

The agenda had already been distributed.

 

1.  Kennedy reported on the results of the postcard poll for Fall Commencement:

    341 students said they plan to attend as of today.  Last year 258 said they

    would attend and 400 appeared for the ceremony. In the discussion it was

    noted that since this is the second time for the Fall Commencement and the

    postcard survey, the numbers may be more accurate this year; it might not be

    proper to extrapolate a 33% increase in actual attendees. [N.B. As of

    10/16/91 there have been 445 responses and students are still coming daily

    to add their names. Ed.] Last year there was standing room only in Burruss

    Auditorium for the 400 students and their guests.  It was therefore agreed

    that Carole Nickerson and the chair would talk with the President about

    moving the ceremony to Cassell Coliseum.

 

2.  Larry Hincker reported that Bob McIlhenny, a banner artist from Gettysburg,

    PA, had made a presentation to the Messrs. McComas, Carlisle, and Ridenhour

    about the design and manufacture of flags and banners to decorate the campus

    for major events such as Founders Day, Commencements, and Parents Weekend.

    The matter is under further review by the administration.

 

3.  Tom Tillar presented the report of the Faculty Participation Subcommittee.

    Its recommendations are:

 

    1.  Inclusion of Emeriti Faculty in Spring Commencement

 

        - Should be invited by their respective Colleges

 

        - Should be encouraged to attend University and College/Departmental

          exercises and related activities

 

        - Because they are traditionally invited to participate in Founders Day

          activities, they should be encouraged in a communication in March to

          participate in both.

 

    2.  Encouraging Faculty to attend the University Spring Commencement

 

         - Mail letter from the President in April encouraging their

           participation; stress that recent changes have added to the formality

           and pageantry of the program

 

         - Encourage their participation in both University and

           College/Departmental Programs

 

         - Include reply card addressed to Commencement Committee, so faculty

           may indicate whether they plan to march

 

         - Require Associate and Assistant Deans and Department Heads to march

 

         - Encourage professional (non-academic) staff members and

           Administrative Faculty to march

 

         - Require ALL marshals to wear academic regalia

 

4.  James Marchman presented the report of the Honors Eligibility Subcommittee.

    Its recommendations are:

 

    The group discussed the sources of the problem leading to student complaints

    about not receiving honors sashes at graduation.  The problems seem to be

    due to the following:

 

    1.  The list prepared last year for use by the bookstore did not include

        dual (graduate/undergraduate) registered seniors.

 

    2.  Some students believe that their final-term grades are sufficient to

        pull them over the line and they should be eligible for a sash.

 

    3.  Students who are not graduating in spring but will finish in summer and

        wish to "walk through" the ceremony are not on the honors sash list.

        (There is some question about whether a student who is not yet eligible

        to graduate should be able to wear a sash.)

 

    We felt that it is not practical to ask the Registrar's Office to take on

    the additional task of last-minute checks for "sash eligibility" and this is

    better handled through the colleges.  The Registrar's Office does not need

    to make sure that all eligible students have been considered in preparation

    of the list given the bookstore.

 

    Our recommendations are:

 

    1. The Registrar's Office needs to make sure that the honors sash list

       provided the bookstore includes dual (graduate/undergraduate) registered

       students and any others who might receive a B.S. or B.A. degree but be

       coded differently from regular undergraduate students.

 

    2. Each college should be given a supply of honors sashes for distribution

       as it sees fit to students, including walk-throughs, whose grades at

       graduation would qualify them as honor students.  Each college will

       maintain a record of students receiving sashes in this manner.  The

       availability of sashes through the colleges should be publicized as a

       part of commencement information normally distributed to students.

 

    Finally, we must realize that despite everyone's best effort, there will

    always be the occasional student who first learns of the existence of honors

    sashes at the ceremony itself and who complains bitterly that he or she

    should have been tracked down and given a sash.  There is little we can do

    in such cases.

 

5.  Martha Johnson presented the report of the subcommittee on Ph.D. and D.V.M.

    candidates in the University Spring Ceremony.

 

    The sub-committee of the University Commencement Committee met September 24

    to discuss the appropriate recognition of doctoral students at the Saturday

    morning commencement.  Committee members in attendance were:  Nancy Barclay,

    Jay Commeaux, Martha Johnson, Carol Nickerson and Josiah Tlou.  The

    committee makes the following recommendations:

 

    1.  Doctoral Ceremony and DVM Ceremony be elevated to Commencement Ceremony

        for those students

 

    2.  President confer degrees at those ceremonies

 

    3.  President's speech for Saturday morning be amended to announce the

        graduation of the doctoral students and DVM's the previous evening

 

    4.  Change general invitation to commencement sent by President's office to

        include Friday night commencements

 

    5.  Program to handle multiple ceremonies (use of plural in bulletin)

        Ms.  Nickerson will work with editor to make sure that we treat

        ceremonies the same in all publications

 

    6.  Reduce the number of reserved chairs for doctoral students and DVM's for

        Saturday morning commencement

 

    7.  Make sure all students feel invited to Saturday morning commencement a

        well as Doctoral Commencement and DVM Commencement

 

6.  The chair presented a proposal for re-instating the diploma application

    (with or without a fee).

 

    The various administrative units concerned with Commencement have a common

    problem: the lack of accurate mailing lists for sending Commencement

    information to students and invitations to the parents.  It shows up when we

    go to mail the postcard survey to Fall Commencement candidates and when the

    President's Office mails invitations to their parents.  Presently, we have

    to work from lists derived from the applications for graduation, which a

    student may submit two years in advance of the actual date of graduation.

    Also and inevitably, there are those students who expect to graduate in one

    cycle and then for whatever reason find themselves graduating at a later

    date.  Since the only information we have is on the application, there is no

    way to verify the student's status and thus insure more accurate information

    for the mailing lists and the printed program.

 

    As long as we were under the once-a-year commencement with a single printed

    program that listed everyone for the preceding year, this was less of a

    problem. Having moved to the twice-a-year format, new problems are emerging

    about listing students in the proper printed program.  The students

    naturally assume that the printed program will reflect their attendance at

    the ceremony. They and their parents get understandably upset when their

    names do not appear. The root cause of this problem is the lack of a

    reporting instrument that will give us reliable information in a timely

    fashion.

 

    A review of the University catalogs shows that up until 1983 there was a

    provision for a diploma fee of $10 (1982-83 Catalog, p. 39).

 

    I propose that this committee request the Provost to reinstate a diploma

    application (with or without fee) that would be due by October 15 for Fall

    Commencement and March 15 for Spring Commencement. This application would

    allow the registrar to cross-check graduation lists and also provide current

    family addresses for the President's Office to send invitations to the

    parents. With the information from these cards, the printed program could go

    to press with the names of those who state that they will attend included in

    the printed program for the ceremony they selected.

 

    Should a fee be reinstated, the proceeds should be reserved for

    commencement-related activities such as, but not limited to, the purchase of

    necessary equipment (staging, chairs, banners), honoraria for speakers,

    offsets for the cost of college/department receptions, etc.

 

    The administration of the form could be handled by the Registrar's Office or

    by the President's Office/Commencement Office.  If it were decided to

    include a fee, as many universities do, the collection function might

    determine which office would handle the form and the money.

 

After some discussion it was noted that the Registrar's Office was preparing a

letter to be sent to students asking them to verify their local address and the

address(es) of parents or guardians for commencement-related mailings.  This

letter would probably help solve the problem of returned or missing invitations

to parents.

 

7.  The committee considered a proposal from a commercial photographer to

    videotape the University ceremony and edit highlights for sale through the

    University Bookstore.  The decision was to reject the offer and continue to

    allow the colleges and families to make their own videotapes.

 

    Two videotapes were available for viewing by members who cared to stay after

    the adjournment: a demo tape of stage units being considered for replacing

    the wooden units for Lane Stadium and a tape of Emory University

    Commencement produced by the commercial photographer.

 

The meeting adjourned at 12:55 p.m.

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