Spring Convocation 2004 – bigger and better


Above: York’s new convocation tent

This spring, approximately 6,500 York University students will cross the stage to receive their diplomas in the Convocation 2004 ceremonies, which run from June 12 to 18. In what promises to be one of the largest convocation events York University has ever organized, the class of 2004 will be the first to graduate in a new venue and a new, streamlined style.

“The composition of convocation will be different this year,” says Sheelagh Atkinson, manager of communications & special events for York’s Convocation Office. “The changes are necessary because of the size of this year’s graduating class and these changes can now be seen on the Atkinson-Osgoode Green. A new 43,132-square-foot convocation tent, one of four of its kind in North America, has been set up on the green. The tent will seat 5,100 people. The audience will be seated in front of the platform party, and the stage will be significantly larger. There will be two large plasma screen televisions positioned halfway so that families of graduates who are seated at the back of the tent can have a good view of what is happening on the stage.”

Above: The 43,132-square-foot convocation tent will seat 5,100 and has two plasma screen televisions

Over the past few months, York work crews have been labouring to level and grade the green in preparation for the new convocation tent. This week, Regal Tents Productions, owner of the new tent, has just completed set-up of the facility. Known as a “clear span” tent, it features a stamped, extruded aluminum frame that is both safe and durable. The tent sides and roof fit snugly into the frame and there are no internal posts or supports to interfere with movement of people and the view of the stage. The tent can also be heated or cooled depending on the weather and a carpeted floor has been laid over the ground. Bleacher seating has been set up at the back of the tent to hold any overflow guests. All of the materials used in the structure meet flame retardant standards.

Candidates for bachelor’s and master’s degrees will be marshalled from Vari Hall and the Ross Building. The chancellor’s party will be robed and marshalled from Atkinson College and PhD candidates from Osgoode Hall Law School. Post-event celebrations for most ceremonies will be centralized in and around the new Technology Enhanced Learning Building.

“Once they are marshalled into the tent, the graduating students will be seated on the stage behind the platform party,” says Atkinson. “The reader will be positioned beside the chancellor. The student will present their name to the reader who will then announce the student just as they are greeted by the chancellor. The immediate naming and presentation of the graduate to the chancellor allows for a special moment. The previous system had graduates lining up to receive their degrees and often delays meant the name being announced did not match the name of the graduate being greeted by the chancellor.

“Hooding will no longer take place. Instead the bachelor’s and master’s candidates will hood themselves following the chancellor’s address,” said Atkinson. “The PhD candidates will be hooded by their supervisors or the Chair of the University Senate.”

During the ceremonies, York University will confer honorary degrees on eight distinguished individuals and install The Honourable Peter deCarteret Cory, retired Supreme Court of Canada justice, as York’s 11th chancellor during the Glendon College ceremony, to be held Saturday, June 12, at 2:30pm. 

The Spring 2004 honorary degree recipients are: Avie Bennett, chairman of McClelland & Stewart Ltd. and the retiring chancellor of York University; Dave Brubeck, jazz musician; Richard Falk, professor of international law and practice at Princeton University; Saul Feldberg, philanthropist and founder of the Global Group of Companies; John Hunkin, president and CEO of the CIBC group of companies and a former member of the York board of governors; Fumiko Ishioka, director of the Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Centre; Dr. Tak Wah Mak, cancer researcher and professor of medical biophysics and immunology at the University of Toronto; and Nobel laureate and welfare economist Amartya Sen.

“Our honorary degree recipients represent individuals whose pioneering spirit and groundbreaking achievements reflect the York vision of success,” said Lorna R. Marsden, York University president and vice-chancellor. “This year’s convocation ceremonies are especially poignant as we give our heart-felt thanks and pay tribute to Avie Bennett, our retiring chancellor, and extend a warm welcome to Peter Cory, our new chancellor.”

Paid duty police will be onsite for the duration of Convocation 2004 to assist with traffic management. Parking & Transportation Services has also made some changes to parking. (See the June 2 issue of YFile.)

The schedule for Convocation 2004 and a wealth of other information can be obtained here. Further inquiries can be made to ext. 55325 or convo@yorku.ca. The ceremonies will be streamed live over the Internet at http://www.studentaffairs.yorku.ca/convo/convolive.htm.

After graduation, the approximately 6,500 eligible undergraduate and graduate students will join the ranks of more than 175,000 York alumni. “The project has been very labour-intensive,” says Atkinson. “It has involved the efforts of a huge number of volunteers, faculty and staff members. At the completion of convocation, the tent will be taken down and the space will be further graded and landscaped. It will be retained as a green space for everyone to enjoy.”