Session 1 - What's in a Name? Updating Our Ceremony Name Reading Practices

Hearing the name of a graduating student read is one of the most important aspects of the ceremony for the graduate, their family, and friends. As our student bodies become increasingly diverse, both culturally and through gender identity transitions, it is important that our practices change to best serve our constituencies. Who reads the names at your ceremony? Is any training provided to make sure that pronunciations are accurate in both pronunciation and speech tonality? How are preferred names and pronunciations gathered? Do you have a mechanism to track whether an international student wishes to use an English name they chose for school, or a transgendered student wishes to use their preferred name? Do you have a way for transgendered students to indicate that they do or do not want their preferred name used (if they are not "out" to family, etc.) Does your institution/registrar allow the use of names that are not the legal names of record? How do we approach collecting this data in a way that is sensitive and inclusive? Kenyon College is currently addressing these questions in a more formal way with the help of the Faculty Secretary, the Office of Commencement, the Office of Global Engagement, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, along with several active and interested students. Pamela and one of her students will be presenting the committee's process and results of this work to date. This education session is purposely planned as one of the longer ones with the intent of including a good amount of discussion time with attendees.

Session 2 - TBD

(Description to Come...)

Session 3 - Homeless: What to Do When Your Commencement Venue Closes

We will discuss the process that Georgia State University went through to produce our spring 2017 commencement after being at the Georgia Dome for 10 years.  We held our ceremony on Georgia Tech's campus over two days and we changed our ceremony format from a large university wide ceremony with group recognitions to a bachelors ceremony with individual recognition.  Our presentation will discuss how we dealt with rebranding the venue, managing our communication plan to students, guests and our campus community and how we dealt with the negative student sentiment surrounding our ceremony venue and tickets, to name a few topics.

Session 4 - Cultural Expanse: Ceremonies Across 1,200km of British Columbia's Northern Interior

UNBC has a unique origin story, a university “in the north for the north,” which has translated over time into a very rich and diverse approach to ceremonies and protocol for its official Convocation ceremonies, as well as Graduation Celebrations at our various regional campuses. From its inception, the University of Northern British Columbia has incorporated many First Nations cultural elements into the community and institution. Aboriginal historic, artistic, and traditional pieces are a significant component of ceremony protocol. Our use of a hand crafted button blanket, a set of hand carved ceremonial chairs, Talking Stick (Mace), flexibility on graduates traditional regalia, and the Lheidli T’enneh nation flag are important ceremonial expressions of our commitment to cultural inclusion. However, our regional campuses span from Fort St. John, to the Nass Valley, including Terrace and Quesnel. We take every effort to provide consistency regarding UNBC protocol, but ensure each campus has their own unique sensibility built into the Convocation related ceremonies. This regional approach allows each campus to connect with and acknowledge the diversity found within their specific territories. Our Senior Administration partake in each of these unique ceremonies to recognize the strength and cultural impact each ceremony brings.

Session 5 - Emergency Preparedness for Commencement Events

This presentation explains the preventative measures and contingency plans commencement staff can develop to mindfully reduce the risks of emergency disasters. At WWU, we have experienced outdoor and indoor commencements over the past two years, including events in three different venues and one event in an unfinished building coordinating efforts with the local fire marshal. We have worked closely with University Police and Emergency Preparedness staff on campus to develop extensive plans for all locations. Our contingency plans include everything from procedures for finding a lost guest to respectfully preparing for protesters to working with police dogs. We have examples of staff trainings, ideas for coordinating with campus connections, and an outline of a contingency plan for people to take away. Preparing for emergencies can easily get set aside when event planning but developing a plan is essential for successful large crowd management. Event planners are not only managing a ceremony, we are also managing thousands of guests. What would event staff do in case of a massive evacuation? What would event staff do in case of a medical emergency? Who are the contacts commencement staff should coordinate with on campus? Potential answers will be given as well as an outline and power point presentation for event planners to use to enhance or begin preparing for emergencies (large and small) in their venues.